Saint Martin’s and Japanese sister school Mukogawa will celebrate 30th anniversary of their exchange program

July 23, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – Long before international and intercultural exchange activities became a regular part of life at Saint Martin’s, the presidents of Saint Martin’s University, then a college, and Mukogawa Women’s University in Nishinomiya, Japan, forged a sister-school relationship that is still going strong today.

This summer, the two universities will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their summer cultural exchange agreement, which has enabled students on both sides of the Pacific to personally experience and learn about another culture, language and way of life.

A 30th Anniversary celebration will mark the occasion on August 14 at the Norman Worthington Conference Center. More than 100 guests are expected to attend the event. Guests will include host families, student cultural ambassadors, visiting students from Mukogawa, and U.S. students. Hirotoshi Yano, chief professor of Mukogawa’s education department, will be traveling to Saint Martin’s especially for the anniversary celebration.

“Our relationship with Mukogawa is particularly important, as it started the Saint Martin’s tradition of promoting educational partnerships and intercultural exchange with higher education institutions in other parts of the world,” says Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development. “It serves as a model of successful cultural exchange that connects people to people, and provides wonderful and exciting opportunities for young people from all over the world.”

Yung says the exchange program with Mukogawa was started in 1984 by then president of Saint Martin’s President John Ishii, Ph.D., Washington state’s first Asian-American college president, and Mukogawa President Akira Kusaka. Both considered promotion of international understanding and intercultural friendships a crucial part of preparing their students to live and work in an increasingly interconnected world. The legacy of both presidents lives on, even though both presidents have died.

Each year, about 30 to 40 young women from Mukogawa – most of them early childhood education majors – come to Saint Martin’s for the summer program. Included are workshops and learning experiences, sightseeing, a weekend stay with a local host family, fieldtrips to daycare centers, libraries and other institutions, a cultural celebration – and of course, shopping. They live in Saint Martin’s residence halls, dine in the cafeteria and get to know U.S. students, experiences that give them a window into life in the United States. Close to 1,000 students from Mukogawa Women’s University have participated in cultural exchange with Saint Martin’s students the last 30 years, Yung said.

What began as a single exchange paved the way for other sister university relationships for Saint Martin’s. The University now has educational and cultural exchange with other Japanese schools, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Northern Ireland, England, France, Italy, Russia and most recently, Brazil.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,400 under-graduate students and 350 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Josephine Yung
Vice President of International Programs & Development
360-438-4375;

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications
360-438-4332; GChan@stmartin.edu