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Japan Exchange Program

Northeastern State University to participate in Japan exchange program

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) — Japanese and Native American students will have the opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultures as part of the TOMODACHI Initiative 2021 Kakehashi Inouye Program.

Northeastern State University was recently selected to participate in the Kakehashi Inouye Program, an exchange program funded by the non-profit U.S. Japan Council and the Japanese government.

“There are many similarities in the experience and history of the Indigenous populations here in the U.S. and those in Japan, and we felt like this would be a unique opportunity for our students to share their culture, learn more about Japanese culture, and hopefully find a meaningful connection,” Sara Barnett, director of the Center for Tribal Studies, said.

She added the Kakehashi program focuses on promoting and facilitating a better general understanding of Japanese culture in North America. 

NSU students interested in participating in the program have until June 30 to apply at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdQesHYULQcMlxvJPqG-GIg9LUjHMevdky5I46hc2dcSSORTw/closedform.  Both undergraduate and graduate students (including non-traditional students) are eligible to participate. Students’ expected graduation should be no earlier than Spring 2022. In addition, students must have American citizenship or permanent residency and visa application fees will be covered.

Barnett said the first component of the program involves a virtual exchange, where over 3-4 days students from Japan and NSU will have the opportunity to share information about their culture, history and more.

Next, if COVID-19 precautions allow, she said the program will pay travel expenses for 28 NSU students to travel to Japan for about eight days next spring. In addition, NSU will host a group of Japanese students for a few days as part of their U.S. trip.

Barnett said NSU officials learned about the opportunity through a professional connection with Dr. Curtiss Rooks, who serves on the U.S. Japan Council Board of Directors. Barnett said the USJC was exploring possible institutions for this program and Rooks reached out regarding NSU’s interest and recommended the institution based on its high Native population.

“I hope the students find some value in learning about the shared and similar histories of our Indigenous populations, and that they gain confidence through sharing their own knowledge, culture and values,” Barnett said.

For more information, email Center for Tribal Studies at tribalstudies@nsuok.edu or call 918-444-4350.