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Japanese students get taste of Oklahoma

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.newsok.com/article/2828578/ Japanese students get taste of Oklahoma By Judy Gibbs Robinson The Oklahoman NORMAN - Three dozen Japanese college
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
      http://www.newsok.com/article/2828578/

      Japanese students get taste of Oklahoma

      By Judy Gibbs Robinson
      The Oklahoman

      NORMAN - Three dozen Japanese college students are getting a taste of
      Oklahoma this week during a first-ever trip to America's heartland for a
      72-year-old cultural exchange program.

      The Japan-America Student Conference, founded in 1934, usually meets in
      cities and campuses on the East and West coasts, Executive Director Regina
      McGarvey said.

      "The students actually came to me at the end of last year's conference in
      Japan and said, 'We want to learn about the 'red state' phenomenon, and we
      want to visit a mega church,'" McGarvey said.

      The four-day stay at the University of Oklahoma also may open eyes among
      the 36 American students traveling and studying with the same number of
      Japanese students.

      "I've been looking forward to this for a year," said Sheehan Scarborough of
      Harvard University. "I've only been to the East Coast and the West Coast
      and I knew America is more than that."

      American Indian debut

      Every year, 72 students -- half Japanese and half American -- are chosen to
      travel together in one country or the other while studying and discussing
      global problems of their choosing.

      The University of Oklahoma agreed to host the students for one of the
      conference's three weeks. They already have visited Cornell University, New
      York City and Washington. Their last stop will be San Francisco.

      Students arrived on three flights Tuesday night and attended a welcome
      reception. They spent much of Wednesday learning about contemporary
      American Indian issues from a who's-who of Oklahoma tribal, academic and
      cultural leaders.

      The session was an eye-opener for Marie Kanke of Keio University.

      "The only thing I know about the Native American is a movie about the
      western United States," Kanke said. "I was really impressed that they have
      tradition but also begin to integrate," she said.

      American students also had plenty to learn, said Jason Knudson of
      Occidental College.

      "People in this conference are from all around the United States, so a lot
      of people don't know that much about Native American culture," he said.

      Global ties sought

      Japan also has indigenous people, and one goal of the Oklahoma stop is to
      allow students to make connections between the groups.

      "We're hoping students can draw comparisons between issues in the U.S. and
      Japan and apply it in a global context," said Ken-Cheng Hsiang of
      Washington and Lee University, the Oklahoma site coordinator.

      Today, the students plan to visit the American Indian Exposition in
      Anadarko. Friday, they will see the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the
      National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism and the state
      Capitol.

      Between excursions, the students work in teams studying and discussing
      international issues they have chosen.

      The conference ends with presentations on what they've learned.

      "We fill their head with more knowledge than they can handle," McGarvey
      said. "But the real lasting thing that happens ... they become really,
      really good friends."
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