Japanese students experience U.S. firsthandPosted July 29, 2013
It's a tradition that dates back nearly 20 years. That's how long students from Ibaraki Christian High School in Japan have been coming to ACU for a unique summer camp experience. It is a chance for them to learn about American history and culture, to improve their English language skills, and to study science. They've made stops at the Grace Museum, Dyess Air Force Base and Frontier Texas, among other local hot spots.
"The camp lets these students experience American culture in a safe, nurturing, Christian environment," says Randall Voss, one of the American-born teachers who works with the students back in Japan and is here with them now as this year's camp winds down. "The time here in Abilene expands their worldview and prepares them to work in a global society as they learn to adapt to new environments."
Ibaraki Christian High School students pose with ACU employees and camp counselors
on the steps of the Hardin Administration Building.
"The value for ACU is that we get to build relationships with fine students from a great school," says Daniel Garcia, the director of ACU's office of International and Multicultural Enrollment. "Over the past nearly 20 years, we've seen dozens of these campers turn into full-time ACU students – young people who make us better by bringing more diversity to campus life."
There is, of course, a learning curve for many students who make the trip, often their first away from their home country.
"A lot of them are struck by how big Texas is – not just the land, the roads and the sky, but also the size of our houses and the portions we eat," says Voss. "What we call a small drink is considered huge in their country. The students also tell me they're amazed by how friendly people are here. They've had to get used to people very nicely walking up and asking them questions."
This year's students and their U.S. advisers have been blogging about their experience, sharing stories with friends and loved ones in Japan.