For many University of Findlay international students, their connections to the institution and its people don’t end once they return home. Having gained valuable experience and friendships here on campus, they pay it forward in altruistic ways not only by maintaining contact with each other, but with domestic UF students traveling abroad.
UF’s Japanese student population is a prime example. According to Chris Sippel, assistant dean for International, Intercultural and Service Engagement, some American student, faculty and staff groups that visited Japan this summer received an additional welcome from a number of Japanese residents who had previously studied at UF. A handful played hosts for a day in Tokyo, some traveling overnight to do so.
When contacted afterward, the Japanese hosts explained the meetings and reunions gave them an opportunity to give back to the University that helped shape who they are today, and to reminisce about how that happened, Sippel said.
“There were a lot of hard times, but there were more fun times too. Both the hard and fun experiences still influence my life here and it helps me to overcome obstacles faced in my life,” said Yoshiyuki Akiyama, who is now a veterinarian at a government-owned dairy farm.
Akiyama said meeting with UF students in his home country adhered to his philosophy about growth. “I believe that students should meet as many people as possible during study abroad. It makes their horizons broadened and expanded,” he said. “This came from my experience in studying abroad in the
U.S.” The opportunity also enabled him to meet and “catch up” with faculty, and to meet new people himself.
For Yuki Kato, a third grade teacher, one UF location stands out in his memory: “Henderson! Thanks to Henderson I gained so much weight,” he said. The University, he maintained, “was the best memory I’ve ever had.”
Networking and continued learning is important to Kato, and playing a host to visiting UF students fits that bill, he said. “I would like to be considered connected with them. It is good for me and my students too,” he noted.
The University of Findlay was “the best place to study,” Miyu Tokunaga recalled while mentioning its “clean air and townscape and atmosphere.” Tokyo is so populated, she said, that she finds it difficult to study and find a place to sit for meals at the school she now attends.
Tokunaga said her UF friends and professors gave her wonderful, unforgettable memories, and she hopes to stay in contact with them.
Like Kato, Tokunaga also values connections with others from Japan who attended UF, and with UF’s domestic student population. She tried to achieve that while she was here. “I was lucky because I had the chance to see domestic students through volunteer work about Japan and I could be friends with pharmacy students last semester. We watched a movie every week and ate Japanese food. I didn’t have friends that I hung out with very often until that time, so I was so happy. I wish I could’ve made those kinds of friends earlier,” she said.
Sippel said he and the University are also grateful for the continued connections with Japanese residents who once called Findlay home. “I am very appreciative of their willingness to help visiting UF students, faculty and staff to learn about and experience Japan,” Sippel explained. “It is always wonderful to meet up with former Japanese students, to catch up on their lives and to hear them reflect on the impact of their time at UF. It’s also great to see how interested they are in continuing a relationship with the University.”