Montana State University

LEAP(ing) @ MSU

June 19, 2017 -- MSU News Service

Members of the Japanese delegation in the Long-term Education Administrators Program (LEAP) gather for a group portrait on Friday, June 16, 2017, at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. LEAP is a year-long professional development program with a mission to help participants improve their English, learn about the U.S. higher education system, and learn about the operations and programming of international programs offices. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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The friendliness of Montanans and the commonalities, rather than the differences, between the American and Japanese cultures are two of the things most noticed by 13 young Japanese university educators and staff members at the Japanese Ministry of Education who are in Bozeman for a 10-week training program at Montana State University.

The educators are participants in the Long-term Education Administrators program, called LEAP, which brings the young Japanese administrators to Bozeman through mid-August for a career training program in America. This is the 19th year that a handful of Japanese administrators have come to MSU for the program, which is administered through the MSU Office of International Programs. While here, LEAP participants study English at the INTERLINK Language Centers and are learning about higher education and international program operations at MSU. Later in the summer, LEAP participants will move to other U.S. universities to participate in internships that will last until next March, when the LEAP participants will return to their home institutions.

The participants said they would like to return home with American educational concepts they might be able to adapt in Japan.

For example, Junko Takahara from Okayama University wants to study the American concept of service learning “where university students implement corporate social responsibility activities by using their knowledge and skills learned in their universities.”

Yoshihisa Iwata of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies hope that the experience will help him “deepen the understanding of a way of thinking to help my university globalize.”

And, as Iwata noticed, “I expected there were a lot of differences between the US and Japan. However, now I feel there are some similarities more than differences.

Recently, the LEAP participants wrote about their experiences in Bozeman and their thoughts on higher education, modern culture and their experiences in the U.S.

What is the most interesting difference between Japanese universities and American universities?

To be able to drink coffee in the library

Keizo Fukuyama

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

I can see more diversity in the U.S. higher education, where each institution shows their own identity and missions clearly, at the same time embracing a number of students and faculty members with diverse backgrounds. American universities seem more colorful than Japanese ones to me, and I like it because diversity enriches us, our learning experiences and future visions.

Kei Tanaka

University of Tsukuba

American universities are active in sports but Japanese universities are not active.

Ayaka Kurita

Kyushu University

Describe the most interesting thing you’ve seen in Montana.

Almost all of the people in Montana didn’t use umbrellas when it rained. It was very surprising for me.

Yumi Ogasawara

Nagoya University

Many people have big dogs and run with them!

Aki Matsumura

Hiroshima University

A beautiful family of owls on the MSU campus.

Kei Tanaka

University of Tsukuba

What is the one thing you would change to make Japanese and Americans understand each other better?

The United States should drop the Japanese automobile tariff.

Yuya Saeki

The University of Tokyo

What do you know now that you wish you would have known while you were in college?

How important studying is. Once we have got a job, we don’t have much time to study whatever we want to learn. This program is definitely the greatest opportunity to learn English and U.S. higher Education.

Michiko Naruta

Tokyo Gakugei University

What one place in Japan should every American see?

Americans should go to Nara. You can visit a lot of ancient Buddhist temples and burial mounds of Imperial families while enjoying biking.

Akihiro Okayama

Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan

Gifu castle is the place. The characteristic of this castle is that it is located on the top of mountain. If you enter this castle, you will feel the soul of the samurai.

Yoshihisa Iwata

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Mt. Fuji. Even for Japanese, Mt. Fuji is just beautiful and make a deep impression on us.

Michiko Naruta

Tokyo Gakugei University

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I would invite Charles Monroe Schulz because I am crazy about “Peanuts”. I want to listen to the secret story about Snoopy.

Junko Takahara

Okayama University

J.D. Salinger

Kei Tanaka

University of Tsukuba

What is one thing you would like to do while you are in the U.S.?

To drive a car

Keizo Fukuyama

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

What is the most valuable possession that you brought with you from Japan?

The picture of my family. It helps me happy.

Yuya Saeki

The University of Tokyo

Anything that you would like to tell the people of Bozeman?

Bozeman’s people are friendly and kind. There aren’t many Japanese people in Bozeman, so they are interested in and speak to us. I appreciate it.

Yumi Ogasawara

Nagoya University

The sound of “Boze” means “Shaved head” in Japan.

Yoshihisa Iwata

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

I am very impressed by surrounding nature and kindness of Bozeman people. I want more Japanese people come here!

Akihiro Okayama

Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan

Makiko Diehl (406) 994-7944, makiko.diehl@montana.edu