Kalamazoo College sponsors study abroad programs in the Japanese cities of Hikone, Kyoto, and Tokyo. According to Narda McClendon, Assistant Director at the Center for International Programs (CIP), the earthquake affected students differently, depending on their location.
Students in Hikone finished their program in mid-February and most left before the earthquake hit. The program in Kioto, a few hundred miles from the disaster site, experienced indirect effects. Kioto’s Doshisha University reopened March 31st with students expecting to return to classes by April 7th. K students attending Waseda University in Tokyo experienced blackouts, transportation issues, and a three-week delay before spring semester. The interruption prompted Kalamazoo College and Waseda University to send the Tokyo program’s participants home.
McClendon said, “In addition to other concern, we began to become concerned whether or not students would be able to earn their academic credit.” The College gave students the opportunity to return to K in time to enroll in spring classes.
While the CIP is concerned with current and potential students studying in Japan, McClendon expressed her sympathy (?) for the people of Japan. “I hope that the assistance that is important for them will be put in place so they can get back on track,” she said.
It is unclear what consequences the earthquake will hold for next year’s students hoping to study in Japan. These sophomores are in what McClendon describes as a “holding pattern,” where they “will continue to prepare for the programs they applied to with the knowledge that it might not happen,,” she said.
Sophomore David Scasny, who was accepted into the Hikone program, said that his initial reaction to the earthquake had nothing to do with his plans for the fall.
“I honestly didn’t even consider study abroad. I just thought about how awful and devastating it was,” Scasny said.
However, he remains optimistic that next year he will be studying at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities as planned. “I have every intent on going until I hear something official from the school or the Japanese government.,” he said.
Realizing the earthquake’s toll on the country, Scasny realizes that he must prepare himself to face the aftermath of the devastation. “Even though the area I’m going to wasn’t affected physically, the Japanese people I meet will be affected who lost families, who lost homes,” he said. “It affects the whole country.”