Trainees from one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of automotive parts, Aisin AW, were welcomed for the third year in a row to tour the College of Staten Island campus as a way of introducing its them to U.S. culture and education. The visit is part of the Aisin year-long training program for employees recruited directly out of high school.

The visit to CSI last semester was the last stop on a week-long tour of U.S. institutions in various cities, designed to  to familiarize and expose them to English language and U.S. culture.

At CSI, the 96 Aisin trainees took part in an extensive campus tour that introduced the trainees to the CSI Library, Campus Center, Center for the Arts, Campus Bookstore, and the Sports and Recreation Center. They were joined by Dr. Stephen Ferst, executive director of the CSI Center for International Service, Deputy Director Barbara Clark, Study Abroad Advisor Satoko Fukai, and Special Programs Assistant Winnie Brophy.

The Aisin visit also allows for members of the CSI community to interact with the trainees.

“CSI, as a college and a community, benefits from hosting visitors from around the world through additional exposure to other cultures and people…” commented Dr. Ferst, adding that the College creates “an atmosphere on campus of acceptance and understanding that can teach us to pursue a more peaceful and just society here and abroad.”

“The trainees absolutely loved the Bookstore” said Study Abroad Peer Advisor Patricia Bauer, a senior Spanish major who was one of the volunteers. “The students were so excited to purchase something from a traditional American college campus that would remind them of their time here once they are back in Japan.”

More than 30 CSI student volunteers had a fabulous time throughout the day and thoroughly enjoyed the guests’ presentations. Robert K Kee, Coordinator for Student Leadership Programs, in the Office of Student Life, conducted an interactive activity called Building Towers.  Participants were able to interact with our CSI students in sharing their thoughts and ideas. Some of the other highlights were the demonstrations of how to make origami, a skit performed by several trainees from a popular Japanese cartoon, the sharing of Japanese recipes and pictures of traditional Japanese food. Many of the volunteers made new friends and gained some insight into Japanese culture.

“This annual visit has been offering both CSI students and Japanese visitors a valuable opportunity to build friendship through cultural exchange. I look forward to seeing them enjoy working together to better understand each other and each other’s cultures despite the language differences,” remarked Ms. Fukai. By the end of the event, many of the participants exchanged email addresses and Facebook requests.

Unlike in the U.S., employees of many large Japanese companies are employees-for-life and this program gives the trainees the opportunity to see US universities and experience diverse cultures. Many of the employees are no more than 18 years old and this experience will help cultivate them into management positions within the company.

The program was initiated in 2008 when Shigeomi Takase, the director of the Japan-America Academic Center met Ann Helm of CSI  in Shinjuku, Tokyo with Mr. Masaru Yamada, president of Japan Association of Overseas Study.  They learned about the college and the  wonderful programs at the English Language Institute.

Since then, Mr. Takase has worked at the Japan-America Academic Center (JAAC) specializing in developing customized international educational programs for Japanese governments, institutes, and companies in corporation with the JTB International Education & Exchange, the largest travel agency in Japan. The first group of 88 trainees came to CSI in November 2011.