The Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, visited the University of Delaware on Oct. 17, 2012.
Fujisaki met informally at UD's English Language Institute (ELI) with middle school teachers of English from Japan who are engaged in an intensive, six-month professional development program to improve their English language and teaching skills.
The UD program, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education (MeXT), includes classes in teaching English as a second language, University graduate courses, teacher training workshops and a teaching practicum in local schools, as well as home stays to increase the teachers' cultural understanding of America.
The United States and Japan have a long history of trade, educational and cultural relations. Fujisaki, who has served as Japan's ambassador to the United States since 2008, went to junior high school in Seattle and later to college at Brown and Stanford universities.
After meeting with the teachers in training at ELI and expressing his desire to continue the program here at UD, Fujisaki met in Elliott Hall with UD President Patrick Harker and Institute for Global Studies Director Nancy Guerra.
The ambassador and Harker exchanged pleasantries and gifts. Gift giving is an important tradition in Japan and a significant aspect of the Japanese societal culture. According to this etiquette, gifts must always be wrapped and of the same value.
Guerra greeted the students in Japanese and later gave them pins made for the 90th anniversary of UD's study abroad program, to be celebrated in 2013.
One of the students, Takashi Nemoto, a teacher from Tokyo, said, "UD and ELI have had a wonderful program for us not only in terms of learning the methods, but also in visiting many cities. We have had a lot of hands-on experience, learning about American culture and American history."
In addition to their classes at UD, the students have had the opportunity to visit cultural attractions in New York, Washington, D.C., and other major cities. Although the students have stayed in the residence halls for the last three months, they will live with host families for the next three months. When they return to Japan in January 2013, they will teach English in public middle schools in different regions of that nation.
"This program has been a wonderful success, exceeding our hopes and expectations," said Scott Stevens, director of the ELI. "It has truly been a life-changing experience for everyone involved: the participants, the colleagues at the ELI, fellow students and host families. We are excited to have the opportunity to present a new program in 2013, and grateful to the Japanese government for their support."
Founded in 1979, ELI offers intensive English programs for degree-seeking students, business and legal professionals, English language teachers and English language learners.
Described as one of the "top 10" intensive English programs in the United States, ELI is fully accredited by the Commission on English Program Accreditation, one of only 49 intensive English programs in the U.S. (out of more than 1,000) to have earned such a distinction.