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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fowler

Supporting Students through the College Admissions Process: A Project for Japan

Posing with Russ Ganim, Kirk Kluver, and Becky Hansen next to the University of Iowa's "brain rock."

From December 1st to 7th, we hosted a delegation from Japan for a program titled “Supporting Students through the College Admissions Process.” This program aimed to teach educators from Japan more about American college admissions to help them guide young Japanese students to a U.S. study abroad experience.

After being greeted by volunteer Jim Williams at the Eastern Iowa Airport, the group arrived in Iowa City in the mid-afternoon. They had the rest of the day and evening to get settled in and enjoyed a meal together at Joseph’s Steakhouse.

Cody See chats with participant Yuki Mizuno.

The next morning, the group went to the Encounter Café for Coffee & Conversation, an informal meet and greet with Iowa City locals. Attended by Ashley Laux, Nathan Faselt, Austin Lee, Cody See, Holly Harris, and Abby Fowler, this event allowed casual conversation with the participants and liaisons. Attendees studying Japanese were also able to engage their conversation skills.

“It was a cool experience -- having the opportunity to exchange business cards as I had learned in class,” wrote Cody See, a Japanese student at the University of Iowa. “I think Japanese culture has a reputation of formality, but talking to Mr. Mizuno was easy.”

Posing with students during a tour of Washington High School.

Afterwords, the group boarded a bus to Washington High School in Cedar Rapids. Joined again by volunteer Jim Williams, the group met with Vice Principal Julie Cain, Counseling Department Co-Chair Jennifer Byers, and College Career Transition Counselor Kristin Mangrich to learn how counselors assist and guide students in the college admissions process. After a conversation with these school officials, the delegation was given a tour by students Da Marea’ Enlow, Aamina Penna, and Simon Osako, who are all studying Japanese at Washington High School.

After a stop at NewBo City Market for lunch, the delegation traveled to Mount Vernon to visit Cornell College. They met with Director of Admissions Drew Shradel, International Admission Representative Kristin Vogel, and Professor of Sociology Eerin Davis and learned about Cornell’s programs and distinctive One Course at a Time curriculum. Following this meeting, the delegation returned to Iowa City in the mid-afternoon and had the rest of the day free.

Enjoying a meal hosted by Ashley and Matt Laux.

The next day was Saturday, December 3rd, and the delegation had free time to explore Iowa City until their Iowa Table Dinner hosted by Ashley and Matt Laux that evening. They played games, ate a great meal, and engaged in great conversation. As a Professor at the Institute for Global Engagement at Grinnell College, Ashley is bringing students abroad to Japan next Spring and was excited to make connections with this delegation. She is excited to meet some of them again in Japan!

“The Laux family welcomed us with wonderful hospitality and a delicious dinner. They explained about Iowa culture and [we] exchanged different cultures [with] each other," wrote participant Miyano Yabiku, an English instructor at the Naha Nikkei College of Business.

Sunday was a completely free day for the delegation to explore Iowa City and the University of Iowa campus. During this free time, participant Yuki Mizuno bought a University of Iowa sweatshirt, which he excitedly wore to Monday’s meetings.

Spelling "IOWA" with Herky the Hawk after meeting with the University of Iowa Admissions and International programs.

Accompanied by volunteers Ellen Osinska, Melissa Mesierheim, and Abby Fowler, the delegation met with the University of Iowa Admissions and International Programs on Monday morning. Russ Ganim, Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs, Kirk Kluver, Assistant Provost and Director of Admissions, and Becky Hansen, Associate Director of International Outreach & Recruitment, guided them through the University’s many majors and programs. The visitors had previously enjoyed walking around the campus and were excited to learn about how they could send their own students to the University of Iowa.

With Phillip Hansen, Assistant Principal of Iowa City City High School.

Afterwords, the delegation visited Iowa City City High School to meet with Assistant Principal Phillip Hansen and Industrial Arts Director John Reynolds. Accompanied by Holly Harris, they learned about the Iowa City Community School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at its three high schools. These programs aim to provide students with information about careers and develop employability skills. Following this meeting, the delegation had the rest of the afternoon and evening free.

The next morning was their final full day in Iowa. Accompanied by volunteer Jane McMullen, they began their morning traveling to Cedar Rapids to visit Kirkwood Community College. Dawn Wood, Dean of the Global Learning Department, Shannon Ingleby, Associate Director of International Student Services, Hiromi Narita, Study Abroad Advisor, and Nick Kettman, Director of Admissions, welcomed them to campus and gave them a walking tour. They enjoyed some coffee and refreshments before being given an overview of Kirkwood’s programs and international student services.

Touring Kirkwood Community College.

"It was very meaningful to be able to visit various schools such as state universities, public high schools, and community colleges. I can make use of this experience and work in Japan," wrote participant Tomoyuki Kawachi, Chairman of NPO Mirasuta.

The delegation departed Iowa very early Wednesday morning to continue their program in South Carolina.

“Super kind and friendly people from Global Ties made our program something special,” wrote participant Yuki Mizuno, Academic Administrator at the National Institute of Technology (KOSEN), Akashi College.

Thank you to Washington High School, Cornell College, the University of Iowa Admissions and International Programs, Iowa City City High School, and Kirkwood Community College for serving as professional resources in this program! We could not connect the world and the heartland without you all taking the time out of your day to share your knowledge, expertise, and campuses.

Thank you also to our volunteers Jim Williams, Ashley and Matt Laux, Nathan Faselt, Austin Lee, Cody See, Ellen Osinska, Melissa Mesierheim, Abby Fowler, Holly Harris, and Jane McMullen for making this delegation’s time in Iowa City special! Your eagerness to chat and learn was not unseen by our visitors.

"The volunteers were always friendly and eager to learn Japanese language and culture. They made our trip fun!" commented Miyano Yakibu.


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