This week, Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) welcomed 123 new students to Salem as part of the 26th annual class of the American Studies Program (ASP).
Blitz the Bearcat, along with many Willamette students and staff, greeted the incoming class with cheers and welcome signs as their buses arrived from the airport.
Since 1989, the sister school relationship between Willamette and Tokyo International University (TIU) has allowed 2,649 TIU students to participate in the one-year ASP program.
Gunnar Gundersen, executive vice president of TIUA, says the partnership provides ASP students with a wide range of opportunities.
“The experiences shared, the doors opened, the learning moments, and the friendships made have impacted the lives of all involved, “Gundersen says. “This exchange is a feature of both universities, and brings clarity and meaning to the phrase, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’”
Though most of the ASP students are from Japan, the group of 58 women and 65 men also includes students from China and Korea.
During the next year, they will take English language and American studies courses at TIUA and Willamette. International peer coaches will assist the students as they transition to independent, self-sufficient members of the campus community.
“The key element in the success of this exchange is the warmth, thoughtfulness, expertise and dedication of a wide spectrum of colleagues, fellow students and local community members over many years,” Gundersen says. “Without you, none of this would be possible.”