There are approximately 300 international students studying at our university from a variety of national and cultural backgrounds, including China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. We hold meetings on a regular basis with regional organizations and personnel that support international students in order to establish an academic and cultural tie between international students and local residents.
We invite local instructors for a Japanese tea ceremony demonstration and a lecture presentation specifically designed for international students. In each lecture that covers the history and spirit of the Japanese tea ceremony students are given an opportunity to experience o-bon temae, a simple procedure for making usucha (thin tea). At first students may find it difficult to handle kobukusa (a square of brocaded and patterned fabric) and whip matcha and hot water using chasen (a tea whisk), yet they will get better at these as they go along. The hands-on experience in the procedures and techniques involved in the Japanese tea ceremony handed down for generations offers international students a better understanding of traditional hospitality in Japan as well as a deepened interest in Japanese culture in general.
International students are given a chance to visit local high schools and introduce their own languages and cultures. This cross-cultural exchange offers a good opportunity for Japanese high school students to get exposed to a variety of cultures and societal values and for international students to experience the actual environment of Japanese education.
Through the deep understanding and active cooperation of regional organizations, including Mito East Rotary Club and Joyo Volunteer Club, we have carried out exchange programs aiming to increase knowledge and awareness of other peoples and cultures. They allow us a great chance to visit tourist spots and attractions in the prefecture, observe the process of traditional pottery-making, and draw a beach seine net to catch small fish.
Also with the support and enthusiasm of a number of volunteers involved in self-governing communities and youth communication clubs, not to mention the Ibaraki prefectural government, we have carried out homestay programs with local Japanese families. Throughout the programs, students are immersed in a new environment that provides opportunities to explore Japanese culture while improving their understanding of Japanese lifestyles and communicating with Japanese families.
At International Student Center we offer international students taking Japanese language programs an opportunity to give a public presentation in Japanese on their own cultures or specific themes they wish to research on. While answering questions and seeking comments from students at Ibaraki University or local residents, presenters may have an invaluable opportunity to interact with a number of people on- or off-campus.
Once a year we hold a fellowship meeting where a variety of international student support organizations, local residents, and international students are invited to meet and get to know each other. In this meeting, international students can give actual accounts of their everyday campus life and take valuable feedback and requests from the participating members. Further, the fellowship meeting is followed by a post-meeting session where participants are allowed to discuss issues that matter most to international students in their life in Japan and share their needs and concerns in the remaining years of their residency in Japan. Participants can also freely chat about their own cultures to promote understanding of cultural diversities.