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Japanese students visit NDSU

A group of students from Kagoshima University in Japan recently visited NDSU on a cultural exchange trip to learn about Great Plains agriculture and food systems.

The 10 Japanese students and one faculty members came to NDSU through a program organized by Kalidas Shetty, founding director of the Global Institute of Food Security and International Agriculture, professor of plant science and associate vice president for international partnerships and collaborations. The visit was Aug. 20-Sept. 6.

According to Shetty, NDSU students serve as peer partners to the Japanese students as the visitors are introduced to agricultural and farming systems and operations, diversity of food systems, river systems feeding the Great Plains and indigenous communities. The trip included a stop at Itasca State Park in Minnesota, the source of the Mississippi River.

“The goal of this program is to advance experiential learning outcomes around the great challenges humanity faces by seeing it and experiencing it in diverse ecologies, and the Great Plains makes excellent contributions to global food security needs” Shetty explained, noting the program is in its fourth year. “In many areas addressing key challenges of humanity, like agriculture, food security, health, environmental and energy, students need a hands-on experiential approach to learning to build their intuitive thinking and logic. That is the foundation of creativity and innovation.”

The program is designed to provide visitors with:

• A better understanding of global challenges through cultural exchange and building an open mind to learning.

• Building self-confidence with improved social interactions across cultural boundaries.

• Improved English language and communication skills.

There was also time for fun activities, like attending a Bison football game, meeting new friends and visiting a variety of NDSU classes.

“My best experience at NDSU was meeting and talking to many new people. They are all very kind and friendly. I had a very good time,” said Akane Arishima, a Kagoshima University student majoring in English studies. “Thank you all very much.”

Kengo Yoshimura, an economics major, said, “I learned how to do Zumba dancing at the NDSU Wellness Center. I'd never done it before and I didn't think I'd like it, but it was great fun.”

The cultural exchange program is similar to one Shetty developed while he previously was a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is in the process of building programs for NDSU students in Bali-Indonesia, Iceland, United Kingdom, Denmark, Costa Rica and Japan with two-to-three modules per year.

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