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R-MC Welcomes Visitors from Ishinomaki Senshu University

Sep 08, 2015

RMC welcomes visitors from JapanRandolph-Macon College welcomed special international visitors on September 6, 2015. Seven members of the Ishinomaki Senshu University (ISU) community—five students, a faculty member and a staff member—arrived on campus for a 10-day visit that will combine research and collaboration. Their visit follows a summer trip to Japan that four R-MC students and their faculty advisors took to conduct research.

Generous Funding
The visit was made possible by the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund (TAMF) through a grant from the U.S. Japan Council's TOMODACHI Initiative, which invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. All Nippon Airways (ANA) generously provided discount airline tickets for each exchange group.

Anderson, a member of R-MC's Class of 2008, died in the March 11, 2011 tsunami that resulted from the Great East Japan earthquake. The TAMF research exchange program between R-MC and ISU honors Anderson, who was teaching English in Ishinomaki, Miyagi with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program when she died.

Welcome Luncheon and Taylor Anderson Memorial Bench
On September 7, 2015, the ISU group attended a luncheon on campus in their honor. Anderson's parents, Andy and Jean, were at the luncheon, as were staff from the Office of International Education, plus the R-MC faculty and students who recently traveled to Japan.

"This week marks not only a festive reunion between our two institutions, but also a continuation of our meaningful educational and cultural exchange," said R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren as he welcomed guests.

During the luncheon, Lindgren unveiled a rendering of a memorial bench that will be built in Anderson's honor. The bench will be flanked by dogwood and cherry trees, symbolizing the cultural connection between the U.S. and Japan. R-MC will host a formal dedication of the bench after it is installed.

"We are moved to recognize Taylor's extraordinary commitment to pursuing one’s passions and embodying a generous spirit of service on our campus," said Lindgren as the rendering was unveiled.  "We will locate the Taylor Anderson Memorial Bench in an appropriate place on campus, likely near the library, given Taylor's love of books. It is our hope and expectation that current and future generations of Randolph-Macon College students will spend time in this special area and come to learn and understand and appreciate the importance and inspiration that just one extraordinary life can have on the lives of so many. I am honored to present this tribute to you, Andy and Jean, in memory of your remarkable daughter and our favored student."

Global Exchange
The TOMODACHI program selected R-MC and ISU students to explore research questions of mutual concern. In summer 2015, Tom Buchanan '16, Daniel Whitehead '17, Jessica Caso '16 and Atticus Finn '16—all participants in the college’s Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program—traveled to Japan with their faculty advisors to examine the 3/11 disaster, each from a different perspective. In the coming days, the Japanese students will work alongside these SURF students, studying the ways that U.S. cities and states plan for, and mitigate the effects of, natural disasters.

Cultural Exploration
R-MC staff and faculty have planned numerous activities for the ISU group, including trips to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Ashland Police Department, the Ashland Fire Department, and Ashland Town Hall. They will also spend a day at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where they will take an ESL (English as a Second Language) class and meet with a group of Japan's Shimane University students who are also visiting VCU.

R-MC and VCU will also collaborate on a visit to Canon U.S.A, Inc. in Newport News, Virginia, where they will learn how this Japanese company has incorporated their Japanese and American employees' cultures for effective communication.

Additionally, the ISU group will visit Monticello, Williamsburg and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia. They will also attend a Japanese drum performance by River City Taiko Group on campus on September 13. Rounding out the itinerary will be a trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the Japanese tattoo exhibit, and a special dinner at the home of President and Mrs. Lindgren.