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globale experiences

Tokyo International University of America student Keiko Fujiwara, taught Japanese culture to Susan Tanabe's South Salem High School classes.

globale experiences

Junko Matsunaga '11 leads a Japanese culture lesson at Parrish Middle School.

globale experiences

Matsunaga shares her background with students.

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Willamette Students Share Global Experiences with Schoolchildren

Keiko Fujiwara, a Tokyo International University of America student, spent the past year studying in Salem so she could learn English and immerse herself in U.S. culture.

She also learned about Willamette's commitment to community engagement, and she took it to heart - during the fall semester, she made 17 presentations about her Japanese background to local middle and high school students.

Fujiwara volunteered through Language in Motion, or LiM, a program that allows international students or Willamette students who have studied abroad to share their cultural experiences with students in Salem-Keizer Public Schools.

Willamette currently has 112 international students from 37 countries, and about 50 percent of undergraduates earn credit abroad before they graduate.

Willamette's Office of International Education coordinates LiM. The program benefits schoolchildren by providing them with cultural interaction, showing them how they are connected to the larger world and helping them learn about opportunities such as studying languages or attending college abroad.

But LiM also provides an important benefit for the Willamette students: the opportunity to reflect on their global experiences and express them to others in their community.

"The program gives you a way to share your abroad experience with people whom you might not normally interact with," says Ben Gronowski '10, a LiM participant who studied in Chile. "LiM spreads a greater knowledge of the world to children and shows them how they can get involved. It's also a good way for Willamette students to interact with the rest of the Salem community."

Willamette students also gain presentation and public speaking skills that they can use in their future careers.

LiM volunteers have presented on a wide array of topics, including political graffiti in Nicaragua, holidays in France, education systems in Nigeria, food culture in Denmark, daily life in the Czech Republic and traditional crafts and games in Japan.

LiM began in 2000 at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. In 2006, Juniata's president invited other colleges to create the program in their communities, and President M. Lee Pelton accepted on behalf of Willamette.

The program debuted in Salem during the 2007-08 academic year with more than a dozen presentations. This past fall, 24 U.S. students and 30 international students gave more than 80 presentations. 

Susan Tanabe '79, MAT'90, a South Salem High School Japanese teacher, said that the program helps her students see Salem through the eyes of others.

"Until recently, too many in Salem had not seen the diversity in our community," Tanabe says. "Willamette is to thank for much of the change in this area, and LiM is a tool for that change."

"We have the power to bring foreign cultures to young children who would otherwise not be able to experience it," says Jan Taborsky '10, MBA'11, an international student from the Czech Republic who also studied in France. "It's fun to be a role model."

LiM is one of several Willamette programs that allow students to share their global perspectives with each other and the community:

  • Willamette World News: This bi-weekly web-based magazine brings worldwide news and opinions to the university community and the general public. International students and Language Teaching Assistants at Willamette blog about their home countries.
  • Willamette Abroad: This joint venture by the Language Learning Center and the Office of International Education is a collection of blogs written by Willamette students currently studying abroad.
  • Office of International Education Peer Advisors: This program helps incoming undergraduate international students integrate into the Willamette campus. Peer advisors plan events and assist with new students' arrival activities.

Language in Motion is available to any classroom at any grade level in Salem-Keizer Public Schools. To schedule a presentation, email limprogram@willamette.edu.