From CLIP to Valedictorian: Meet RinZhi Go Larocque ’16: CSI Commencement Speaker

RinZhi vists a Quechua community during a volunteer trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador to learn about their traditional medicine garden. The natives painted her face with berries and served "chicha."

As a non-native English speaker, RinZhi Go Larocque ’16 began her college experience at the College of Staten Island (CSI) by entering the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP).  The Program, administered through CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development, allows students the opportunity to study English for an intensive period of time before enrolling in formal college courses.

Now, named as Valedictorian of the Class of 2016, Larocque reflects on how CSI helped her achieve her goals.

“Think of the Dolphin, our school mascot. Like dolphins that nurture their young, CSI has nurtured me,” said Larocque, who is also a Verrazano School student.

Born in Malaysia, Larocque moved to the United States in 2012. She attributes her success in academics, research, and even perfecting her English, to the faculty at the College. “CSI has helped me to completely immerse myself in English, as well as American society and culture,” she said.

The Brooklyn resident has volunteered in Indonesia, Singapore, Ecuador, and her home country, Malaysia, where she was Valedictorian of the Pontian Government High School class. In 2010, Larocque was a visiting scholar and programmer for the Labyrinth Project: Jewish Homegrown History, Immigration, Identity and Intermarriage.

At CSI, Larocque has taken advantage of research opportunities in biology and computer science with CSI professors and has collaborated with scientists and engineers from The City University of New York (CUNY) Advanced Research Center to develop software and publications on algorithms for the analysis of scientific data. As a multi-disciplinary student of computer programming, biology, and business, she has learned to present her research findings to people in different fields at multiple conferences.

The determined and passionate student has also been invited to give motivational speeches at more than five College events, including the CSI Celestial Ball and the scholarship receptions at the residence of CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz. She is also a member of the CUNY Service Corps and a research assistant at the Healthy CUNY Initiative.

“Being an active college student, I am able to broaden my network of connections, locally and globally, which have helped me tremendously to serve in leadership roles on campus,” she commented, adding that being a student in The Verrazano School Honors Program has “given me a badge of prestige and pride as an honor student.”

The Biology major with a minor in Business is a recipient of almost a dozen awards and scholarships, including the National Grid Scholarship (August 2015), Ernesto Malave Merit Scholarship (August 2015), Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Honor Recipient (May 2015), The CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Advanced Science Research Center (May 2015), CSI Honors Undergraduate Research Stipend (2014-2016), Clara and Arleigh B Williamson Scholarship (2014-2015), CSI Student Government Scholarship (2014-2015), Aloha Mind Math USA Teacher Award (2013), CSI Foundation Scholarship (2013-2014), Dean’s List (2012-2015), and Winner of the CUNY Intercollegiate ESL Essay Writing Competition (2013).

While an impressive and accomplished individual in her college endeavors and beyond, Larocque says she does not forget her “humble beginnings,” which motivate her to volunteer. “My own perseverance has been indelibly instilled in me by my father, a fisherman and my principle role model. Despite rampant piracy and the destructive typhoon seasons on the Straits of Melaka, he continued to go fishing to support a family of six,” explained Larocque, adding that her mother, father, two sisters and brother all currently live in Malaysia.

The busy student just returned from volunteering in the Amazon rainforest over spring break to help forest conservation and minimize hunger “by helping the local communities to truly advance in agriculture and stand on their own feet.”

“I have learned to scrutinize how health issues intertwine with diverse cultures through many of my volunteer experiences. For instance, volunteering in Indonesia, I found out that their natives chew on raw sugarcane to whiten teeth,” said Larocque, who also works as a hospice volunteer as well as with the CUNY Language Immersion Program, helping prospective CSI students from other countries assimilate in their new society.

Adding even more breadth to the young woman’s repertoire, Larocque’s artistic training includes many years of playing the violin and piano as well as watercolor painting. She is the winner of multiple competitions in Calligraphy Writing, and has a yellow belt in Taekwando. Larocque currently serves as a tutor in the CSI Office of Academic Support, assisting students in calculus, biology, and inorganic and organic chemistry.

Already a dental assistant, medical biller, and coder with Boss Dental PC, in Brooklyn, Larocque has been accepted to several dental schools, including New York University, and will be attending the Doctor of Dental Surgery program at the University at Buffalo this summer. She plans to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and also a lifelong supporter of the College. “I would like to invest my faith, trust, and money in the younger generations at CSI, for the pursuit of knowledge and education, just as my scholarships donors, such as Mr. [Frank] Lombardo [Executive Advisor to the President] from National Grid, have done,” she said, adding that she would also like to continue volunteering locally and globally.

“My educational endeavors at CSI have taught me that life’s obstacles can be turned into assets if one is diligent, clever, and able to recognize opportunity,” Larocque promises.

By Sara Paul

 

 

Macaulay Honors Graduate Studying Ecology

Lucinda Zawadzki holding a Great Black-backed Gull chick on Tuckernuck Island, MA.

When meeting Lucinda Zawadzki ‘15 for the first time, one may assume that the young College of Staten Island (CSI) graduate has her head in the clouds, and, in fact, that’s exactly where it is. The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumna, who graduated as Salutatorian with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with Honors, divides her time between research, publishing manuscripts, interning, and feverishly completing graduate school applications. The Staten Island Technical High School graduate plans to pursue a PhD in Ecology beginning in fall 2017.

Zawadzki, who also holds a double minor in Biochemistry and Chemistry, is a recent recipient of the impressive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention Award. She is also a University Scholar and received a full-tuition Merit Scholarship through the Macaulay Honors College, which covered tuition for her entire four years CSI. In addition, while at CSI, she was awarded a CSI Foundation Scholarship (2014), a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention (2014), a CSI Honors Undergraduate Research Stipend (2014 and 2015), and the New York Community Trust Grant (2015).

“Being at CSI has allowed me to flourish, and I do not think I would be the person I am today had I attended a different college. I owe this College a lot, and I am proud to say that I graduated from such an amazing place,” exclaimed Zawadzki.

The Great Kills resident also commended the support of the MHC staff as well as several notable CSI professors such as Dr. William Wallace, Dr. Shaibal Mitra, Dr. Richard Veit, and Professor Tom Brown, all of whom had “a very strong impact” on her future.  She noted that MHC Director Dr. Charles Liu, Associate Director and Advisor Lisa French, and Program Coordinator Anita Romano have “provided continued support, encouragement, and advice” during her college career, as well as during the transitional period between college and graduate school.

Adding even more breadth to the young researcher’s undergraduate experience at CSI, Zawadzki studied abroad three times: London, England through a Hunter College program in the summer of 2013, studying contemporary British drama; Rousay, Scotland in the summer of 2014, participating in the Orkney: Gateway to the Atlantic Program; and finally St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands in January 2015, taking a course in tropical ecology.

The scholar and world traveler has only one bit of advice: “In order to succeed in college, try new things.” she urges. “While many of us think we have our careers planned out before we set foot in college, the reality of it is that college is a life-changing experience. You will be exposed to new ideas, new opinions, and new people, all of which will force you to view the world in an entirely new light. You will find new things that you love, and those passions may lead you to a career that you had never envisioned for yourself before.”

Zawadzki plans to continue her focus on aspects of avian migration, in particular the study of “vagrants”–birds that are known to fly out their “normal” range–and uncover reasons as to why they engage in this exploratory behavior. Upon receiving her PhD, she would like to continue to study avian migration, become a college professor, and “serve as a role model for women who do not believe they can make it in a science career.”

Lucinda Zawadzki holding a Northern Saw-Whet Owl that she banded in Sandy Hook, NJ.

Since graduation, the budding ecologist continues to spend her time researching bird habits. This summer, she traveled to Tuckernuck Island, MA with Dr. Veit to study herring gull and great black-backed gull diets. Alongside Central Connecticut State University Master’s Degree candidate Allison Black, she helped band gull chicks and assess diet samples to understand what parents were feeding their chicks. She also assists Professor Brown at his bird-banding sites in Sandy Hook, NJ during both fall and spring migration.

In her leisure, Zawadzki frequents the parks of Staten Island to watch birds and learn more about the species present in the area, as well as their behaviors. “I’ve noticed that being outside is also the best way for me to gain research ideas. What better way to ask questions about the world around us than being in it and observing it for yourself?” she pondered.

Being in nature a great deal also inspired the outdoorswoman to invest time in a new-found passion: painting. After taking an introductory painting class at CSI, Zawadzki says that she realized she was quite a capable artist.

“So, take that art class that doesn’t fit in with your major, or that biology class that you think sounds like fun, or even go on that study abroad trip where you don’t know any of the other students. You may discover something you had never thought of before, and it could change your life,” she said.

 

 

Travels to Ghana: Alumna Recalls How Study Abroad Program Prepared Her for Life’s Journey

Janett Perez in Ghana where she is serving two years as a health extension volunteer.

Ever since she was a young girl, Ledys Janett Perez ’13 knew that she had a passion for helping others. Now, after graduating from the College of Staten Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Miss Perez is finally living her dream. This February, the young CSI alumna traveled to Ghana, Africa as a member of the Peace Corps.

“I always had an admiration for people who would go to other countries to selflessly volunteer and immerse themselves in a different culture,” recalls the 25 year old, who was raised in Puerto Rico.

After graduating from CSI in May 2013, Perez accepted a full-time position at Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park, Brooklyn as an intensive care surgical nurse. She started her Peace Corps application process in January 2015 and was accepted in March of the same year to travel to Ghana.  Her two-year appointment as a health extension volunteer in there begins in February 2016, and she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“My goal is to connect with the people there, immerse myself culturally, and build relationships with the people I’ll be serving,” commented Perez, adding that she attributes much of her inspiration to the programs and faculty at CSI.

Having studied abroad three times with the CSI Study Abroad Program, Perez confirms how these trips helped shape and prepare her for her exciting current endeavor. In 2013, she spent a month in Costa Rica with a now popular program at CSI, although she was part of this first group to go.  There, she studied nursing and Spanish.

Janett Perez

“This one of a kind experience gave me an introduction to what it would be like to serve other cultures around the world using the skill set I already had,” she said, stressing that she visited hospitals and clinics, and conducted home health visits there, similar to the work she will be doing in Africa. “This prepared me way in advance for this life-changing decision that I am making now,” Perez said before leaving for her trip.

She also studied Italian in Venice, Italy in 2009 and then Mandarin and Chinese business in China in 2011, both through CSI-sponsored study abroad programs.

Perhaps the biggest impression that CSI left on this young nurse, though, were the academics and student life that she found so inspiring.

“At CSI, many professors were so incredibly amazing and influential. I am honesty and truly in debt to them for life for opening my eyes to new experiences,” she said, commenting, in particular, on two professors: Dr. Marianne Jeffreys, Professor of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, and Dr. Phil S. Sigler, Associate Professor of Sociology.

Dr. Jeffreys was key in the young Nursing student’s academic career.

“She inspired me because she taught with so much passion. It fascinated me because she taught me a whole other side to nursing, which would bring me to where I am now,” said Perez. “I think she saw something in me and she guided me a lot from the time I took her class to this very day.”

The student also fondly remembers Dr. Sigler, her Marriage and the Family course instructor. Perez merely took the Sociology class because she needed to and had also heard positive feedback about the instructor. Her expectations for the class quickly changed, however, as Professor Sigler became another key player in her journey.

“People come out of nowhere and change your life completely,” she reflected, recalling her shock when she learned that her professor had walked across the United States and written a book about his experiences. “I said to myself, ‘that is crazy! Why would anybody do something like that?’  Then I got to talking to him and he said he learned about himself and what he was capable of more than in his whole life.”

In addition to study abroad and notable professors and mentors, Perez also stressed the importance of her student life affiliations. An active member and 2012 President of the Chi Alpha Christian Club, the student noted the importance of campus involvement.

“I really believe CSI is an amazing college, and if you take advantage of what is there, your options in life are limitless,” she said, adding that the Christian Club continues to support her efforts, even after graduation.

Her parting advice to CSI students is simple:  “When you feel that calling in life, go for it. Don’t be afraid!”

“There are so many people to meet and encounter at CSI, and it was so rewarding to be involved while managing classes, responsibilities, and a personal life,” said Perez, stressing that she never lived on campus, as the Brooklyn resident graduated before the CSI dormitories were completed.

Perez will land in Ghana’s main city, Accra, and spend her first three months there in an intensive training program, engaging in such things as language and cultural training. After three months, her strengths and specialties will be assessed and she will be assigned to a particular village; then she will find out where she is living, a hut or a house.

After the two-year appointment, Perez looks forward to possibly writing a book about her experiences in Ghana and returning to school for a Master’s in Nursing.

A few days prior to leaving for Africa, Perez chuckled, “I now get the same questions I asked Sigler years ago. ‘Are you crazy?’ I respond that life is a lot about taking chances and following your heart and your gut. Why am I doing it? My response is that it would be crazy not to do it!”

 

Fifth Induction Ceremony of the Eta Lambda Chapter of Phi Beta Delta

Students, faculty, and staff of the College of Staten Island gathered to induct 34 new members into the Eta Lambda Chapter of the Phi Beta Delta Honors Society for International Scholars. Among the new inductees are faculty members, staff, students (domestic and international), alumni, and Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori, the keynote speaker of for the fifth annual induction ceremony.

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Phi Beta Delta is the first honor society dedicated to recognizing scholarly achievement in international education. CSI currently has more than 200 members in the Society, with Eta Lambda being the first chapter within The City University of New York system.

Dr. Noori is a lawyer and professor with a research focus on international human rights and Islamic studies. the topic of his speech was the importance of academic freedom within universities. He emphasized during his lecture and again afterward, “research is essential to discovery.”

For more information visit  http://csivc.csi.cuny.edu/pbd/files/.

Phi Beta Delta Honor Society: A Quest for International Discovery

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” — Pat Conroy.

The Phi Beta Delta Honor Society inducted thirty-two new members into the College of Staten Island’s Eta Lambda chapter in 2014. Inductees ranged from international and domestic students, such as 2014 valedictorian Blaze Fraser, to staff and faculty members.

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The Eta Lambda chapter at CSI currently has more than 200 members. The society acknowledges and honors each new and continuing members’ devotion to international study and travel, their commitment to achieve excellence, and their love for spreading that knowledge across the globe.

Newly inducted member Stephanie Randazzo expressed the impact of the honor society. “Phi Beta Delta Honor Society has broadened my international experience domestically. I have grown through my experience abroad and impacted others because of it.”

The key note speaker of the induction ceremony, Gianpiero Paliaro, expressed that world travel “is definitely one of the most challenging and rewarding life-changing experience a person can have.” Paliaro is the Corporate Office Manager of the Mediterranean Shipping Company. He has personal and international aspirations to make the world a more interconnected place.

The Society offers students multiple opportunities to develop their sense of the world through sponsored events throughout the academic year. The Eta Lambda chapter at CSI has a sponsored trip to tour the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island. Phi Beta Delta Honor Society also encourages members to pursue international endeavors by holding a career fair with companies that operate on an international level, providing members with the chance to start careers that could bring them across the globe.

 

China’s Shaoxing University models new PT program on CSI

Dr. William J. Fritz signs the Memorandum of Understanding for the groundbreaking new Physical Therapy program with Yongming Shou from Shaoxing University.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation in China are currently provided by untrained individuals who are mostly physical educators, and the number of individuals requiring rehabilitation in China is staggering.

To help with this situation, delegates from Shaoxing University in the Zhejiang Provence of China met on the College of Staten Island campus with key members of CSI’s faculty and staff, headed by Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Jeffrey Rothman.

Their goal is to develop a high-quality physical therapy educational program for China that would meet North American standards of accreditation.

With only one physical therapy education program in China located at the Polytech University in Hong Kong, the Shaoxing University delegates are aiming to form relationships with North American colleges and universities that can assist them in collaborating with faculty from Shaoxing on matters related to curriculum, course content, and research with a possible exchange program for students and faculty envisioned for the future.

The delegation was welcomed to CSI by Dr. Rothman and Dr. Stephen Ferst, Executive Director, Center for International Service, as they went on a tour of the CSI Department of Physical Therapy to meet with its faculty members. They soon met with CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz,  Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fred Naider, Dean of Science and Technology Dr. Alex Chigogidze, and Professor Maureen Becker, Director of Clinical Education, Department of Physical Therapy and Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences, and signed the letter of intent to memorialize the collaboration and promote relations and mutual understating between the institutions.

“I am excited that our Doctor of Physical Therapy students will be offered the potential of overseas study and experience,” Dr. Fritz told the delegates. “We are proud of the opportunity to play a role to assist China in providing competent physical therapy and rehabilitation services.”

Dr. Fritz also noted that the collaboration will “increase the civic prosperity of Staten Island,” and informed the delegates of the College’s Interdisciplinary High Performance Computing Center and “the opportunities it provides our students.” He also discussed the recent creation of three new schools on campus, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Health Sciences.

Dr. Rothman, working with Dr. Robert Chen, an internationally renowned sports physical therapist, met with the visiting Shaoxing University faculty and administrators in order to begin a valuable relationship that will see CSI’s Department of Physical Therapy program faculty, staff, and students assist in establishing Shaoxing University’s Physical Therapy program to meet the tremendous needs for rehabilitation services for its large population. Dr. Rothman, during his visit with Dr Chen last year, toured several rehabilitation centers in China. It was evident during his visit, and following discussions with medical staff, that there is a high number of children in China with physical disabilities and adults with a multitude of physical and motoric problems that would benefit greatly from physical therapy services.

This collaboration with Shaoxing University will also allow for faculty and student exchange between the respective universities. In addition, CSI DPT students will be offered the potential for overseas study experience in their professional field, including, but not limited to, strengthening clinical practical training in Shaoxing University’s affiliated hospitals and expertise in Chinese traditional medicine and knowledge.

Shaoxing University considered several other U.S. physical therapy programs including a prestigious Manhattan-based private university, but decided to work with CSI after reviewing the curriculum and program resources, and meeting with CSI’s international office and administrative support.

The meeting with the delegation from Shaoxing was such a success that the University has also expressed interest in collaborating with other academic fields of study at CSI, including Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Nursing, Education, Engineering, and Business.

By establishing a collaborative relationship with Shaoxing University, CSI has the opportunity to play a monumental role in assisting China in providing competent physical therapy and rehabilitation services that are urgently needed by the Chinese population, while greatly enhancing the international reputation and presence of CSI and CUNY.

International Visitor Leadership Program Wraps Up At CSI

Photo courtesy of Lucy Farfan-Narcisse.

THE BANNER – A delegation of 19 international higher education leaders congregate in the Green Dolphin Lounge in 1C on May 1, 2014. Hosted by the Center for International Service, the International Visitor Leadership Program wrapped up its three week tour of United States’ colleges and universities.

The program was organized by the Office of International Visitors which is part of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a bureau of the United States Department of State. The program was arranged by Ms. Ann Driscoll and Colin Ackerman of World Learning, an international nonprofit which promotes international exchanges of education and developmental knowledge.

Then Interim President, now full time President of the College of Staten Island, William Fritz, was there to mark the rare and influential occasion by welcoming the congregation of international visitors. President Fritz referenced a recent Business Insider article which cited CSI as New York States’ “most underrated college,” as evidence of CSI’s desirability for potential international students stating.

“CSI has national as well as international ranking,” said President Fritz.

The topic of conversation between the international visitors was “Contemporary Challenges in Higher Education.” With visitors ranging from Armenia, Bolivia and Chile, to the Slovak Republic, Somalia and South Africa, there was no lack of interesting conversation between various cultures and customs which all share a common ideal of the importance of higher education.

Dr. Stephen Ferst, Executive Director of the Center of International Service, pointed out how “unique” CSI is due to the existence of an international service office which sets it apart from other CUNYs. CSI’s blend of community college and four-year degrees is another thing Ferst cited which makes “a particular college like CSI attractive [to educators from abroad].”

After opening remarks by Dr. Ferst, President Fritz and Dr. Michael Kress, Vice President of Information Technology and Economic Development for CSI, the various visitors broke off into multiple groups to network, as well as to discuss challenges facing higher education and CSI’s role on the international stage.

Three of these visitors – Ms. Samira Alvarado Arzate, International Affairs Coordinator and Secretariat of Education for Sonora State University in Mexico, Ms. Maram Albalbisi, Quality Assurance Manager for Effat University in Saudi Arabia, and a representative from Djibouti who has asked to remain unnamed – shared some of their opinions of CSI.

All three mentioned “the wide campus space” and the “large amount of degrees available” as some of the key qualities that make CSI outstandingly attractive to other visitors and potential students.

“CSI is a research campus, which has great importance to many students, especially for those studying the sciences,” said Ms. Albalbisi.

Also present at the event was Mr. Bosco Johnson Rukundo, a lecturer and coordinator for the Masters of Science Economics program at the National University of Rwanda. With Rwanda suffering from social upheaval and economic trouble, and its reliance on the agricultural industry, Mr. Rukundo, more than most people, knows the dire importance of higher education.

“In my country, most people lack higher education and therefore have fewer skills,” said Mr. Rukundo. “We need those critical skills in the sciences to create not only jobs but sustainable jobs that aid in the long term.” Mr. Rukundo indicated that affordable and accessible colleges like CSI make great strides in helping international workers get the skills their country needs. This exportation of knowledge is one of the key themes of the program.

Since the Center of International Service has been on the CSI campus, multiple international students have come to CSI looking for a chance at an affordable and comprehensive college degree and experience.

One of the attendees of this leadership program, Naomi O., is a young woman from Japan who currently attends the College of Staten Island and works for the Center of International Service.

Ms. Naomi O. works as an intern for the Center of International Service, is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Management, and speaks more than three languages. Naomi moved from Japan to Hong Kong and eventually made her way to the United States, specifically Staten Island, NY.

“Communication between people [on the issue of higher education] is essential,” said Naomi. In order to reach the most amount of people domestically and abroad, higher education leaders, according to Naomi, need to “broaden communication of the issue of higher education across universities and countries.” She added that initiatives like the International Visitor Leadership Program were fundamental to the dissemination of knowledge and higher education throughout the world.

The group eventually departed from the Green Dolphin Lounge and toured the ongoing Undergraduate Research Conference occurring in 1P as well as the library.

“Contemporary Challenges in Higher Education” is not just the title of this international summit but it is also the theme of most of the struggles facing both the United States and the international stage. With modern technology on the advent and a growing global socioeconomic disparity, it is and will be the continuing focus of attention for world leaders to promote higher education and the dissemination of knowledge to as many people as possible.

CSI now finds itself at the spearhead of new initiatives like these, more so than many other American universities. Promoting internalization of education, CSI now stands as a potential gateway for immigrants, or any other person, to reach the goal of higher education relatively easier than most other colleges and universities in the world.

This article was written by Michael Roach for the May 22, 2014 issue of  The Banner and is reprinted here with permission.  Read more from The Banner>

Japan’s leading manufacturer of automotive parts visits CSI

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.