photograph by: Contributed Photograph


Japanese trade students from Kansai College in Osaka, Japan, are pictured in downtown Lawrence in August of 2020.


College students who examine overseas are frequently confronted with altering to a new tradition, discovering a language and coping with staying significantly from residence. Now picture all that — furthermore a international pandemic.

Which is what Hanae Matsuda, Rena Nakamura and 10 of their classmates from Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, seasoned for the past 9 months throughout their trade software via the University of Kansas. When the Japanese college students arrived in the United States in early March, COVID-19 was currently spreading in Japan, so the learners quarantined for 14 times. But when their 14-day period of time was up, the United States was just starting to shut down.

The students’ classes moved online and they put in a lot much more time on your own than predicted. The internships they experienced prepared to do had been canceled and changed by volunteering prospects at neighborhood nonprofits. The 12 college pupils also seasoned firsthand the racial and political stress that, alongside with the pandemic, manufactured 2020 a calendar year as opposed to any other.

Aaron Huerter, assistant director of KU’s Global Short Packages, claimed that although the students’ knowledge was not like they thought it would be, they manufactured the most of it.

“In some techniques, I feel they almost certainly know far more about Lawrence and the people of Lawrence than any of our other teams have ever regarded for the reason that they just jumped in with both equally toes on anything that we did,” he explained. The 9-month study overseas system has existed for about 11 decades.

Matsuda and Nakamura, who did a Zoom interview with the Journal-Entire world on Dec. 15, both equally reported they had fantastic ordeals, despite the situation.

photograph by: Contributed Photo

Japanese exchange students from Kansai College in Osaka, Japan, are pictured in Kansas Town in August of 2020.

Nakamura stated the spring and summer months seasons have been tense and lonely for her mainly because lessons were on line. But at the time she was capable to start out attending some lessons in person during the slide semester, Nakamura stated she was active learning and making pals.

“So I did not have a lot time to contact my close friends and loved ones,” she said. “And now I do not pass up them so a great deal.” The learners returned to Japan previously this thirty day period.

Matsuda explained she was grateful to be in the United States this year, for the reason that she knew her encounter was exceptional. And when she and her other classmates from Kansai University were being generally physically separated, “mentally, we were substantially closer,” she said.

For the duration of their remain, the learners ended up supposed to total 32 several hours of work in an internship at a community firm. But that turned out to be infeasible simply because of the pandemic, so alternatively the team volunteered at community nonprofits that were being doing pandemic-relevant functions.

They did foodstuff distribution with Just Food, volunteered with Catholic Charities, worked at Dawn Project’s local community yard and served build a house a single Saturday with Habitat for Humanity. When they volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, they even received to see the woman whose dwelling they have been constructing.

“I felt the link with community people today in that type of volunteering actions,” Matsuda stated. “In Japan there are not welfare solutions like that so that was a good possibility for me to master about how (the) American welfare procedure performs.”

image by: Contributed Photograph

Hanae Matsuda participated in a Habitat for Humanity task 1 Saturday all through her 9-thirty day period exchange software via The University of Kansas.

photo by: Contributed Photos

College students from Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, participated in a Habitat for Humanity task one Saturday for the duration of their 9-thirty day period exchange application as a result of The University of Kansas. From still left are Nao Morimoto, Nazumi Matsumoto, Rena Nakamura and Shota Watada.

Huerter claimed it was difficult balancing the students’ actual physical and psychological effectively-currently being throughout their continue to be.

“It’s been truly difficult and difficult, in particular for people of us who get the job done in university student solutions and student programming,” he claimed. Providing the students activities and retaining them bodily nutritious was no simple undertaking.

“We did about just about anything we could believe of that was not within and that we could form of socially distance and observe all these protocols,” Huerter reported.

The team experienced a picnic at Clinton Lake, frequented the Kansas Metropolis zoo and did a vacation gentle tour at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, among other activities. Nakamura explained she went to a church assistance the moment and joined a friend’s family members for their Thanksgiving food.

photograph by: Contributed Photograph

Japanese trade pupil Rena Nakamura celebrated her 22nd birthday when in The usa.

Matsuda and Nakamura reported they savored Lawrence. They especially appreciated the welcoming character of the local community.

“There are only a couple Japanese in this city, but I experience like people’s potential to settle for all kinds of persons (was) considerably larger than I expected,” Matsuda explained.

For Matsuda, the largest cultural big difference she observed was how vocal Americans are and how they price their unique personalities. Japanese folks, she mentioned, tend to not categorical by themselves and to conceal their inner thoughts. She said she felt like she experienced several opportunities to give her belief to other folks.

Nakamura included that she was amazed by how Us citizens compliment strangers on the avenue.

All round, Huerter mentioned he was pleased with how included the Japanese learners had been in the Lawrence community all through the pandemic.

“I think in its place of type of separating out and possessing just a person working experience at one position, they form of observed a whole gamut of what was taking place in the Lawrence group in the course of this mad time,” he said. “And then they really took section in that.”