Students return to Japan enriched by Armidale experience

Published 23 June 2009

utsumicooperSixteen students from Chubu University in Japan have left Armidale after a 17-week experience that has enhanced both their competence in the use of the English language, and their understanding of its cultural context.

This is the fifth successive year that a group of students from Chubu University, Nagoya, has come to Armidale to undertake English language and cross-cultural communication studies at the University of New England and to engage with spoken English within an Australian community.

The students, all in the second year of degree programs with a major English-language component, arrived at UNE in February. They left at the end of last week, after completing a semester-long linguistics unit for UNE undergraduates (“Cross Cultural Communication Studies”) and more than 300 hours of tuition at UNE’s English Language Centre. During their stay they engaged in Armidale family and community life as well as the life of the University.

These annual study tours to Armidale are the result of a partnership arrangement between UNE and Chubu University that also includes various forms of staff and student exchange.

Mark Cooper, the Deputy Director of Studies at the English Language Centre, said that members of this year’s group of students were aiming at a variety of professions – including that of teaching English as a second language.

Mr Cooper (pictured here), who was able to talk to the students about what to expect in Armidale during a visit to Chubu University last October, said that they had settled in “very easily”. This was not only because of his visit, he said, but also because they had spoken to fellow students who had taken part in the program in previous years.

“The bond between UNE and Chubu University is a strong one,” Mr Cooper said, “and Chubu has said that it wants to continue these annual study tours into the foreseeable future.”

During a farewell ceremony for the students on Friday 19 June, UNE’s Chief Development Officer, Mr Chris Patton, told them that the University greatly valued their presence on campus. “Your presence here is significant not only for UNE, but also for the wider Armidale community,” Mr Patton said.

Mr Cooper thanked the many people who had contributed to the success of the Chubu visit – including the Heads of UNE residential colleges and the members of Armidale households in which the students had stayed, Ms Catriona Bor and Mrs Katsuko Honour who coordinated this year’s visit, the English language teachers, and support staff including Ms Shizuko Yamagashi who was the students’ adviser in the cross-cultural communication course.

Caitlin Dittman, a student of Japanese at UNE, represented the UNE “buddies” assigned to the visiting group in delivering a farewell message in Japanese.

Two of the Japanese students responded in English. Natsumi Sakata pointed out that their UNE experience had enabled them not only to improve their competence in English communication, but also to broaden their horizons through sharing classes with students from all over the world. “Thank you for making our stay so memorable,” she said.

Noriharu Utsumi (pictured here) remarked particularly on the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone they had encountered both in their classes and in their college and “homestay” accommodation. “I really enjoyed Australian life,” he said.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Mark Cooper presenting Noriharu Utsumi with his certificate during last Friday’s ceremony.