The McKendrean Magazine for McKendree Univeristy - Summer 2023

Bearcats Visit Japan, Take Part in Technos International Week in Tokyo

Technos Trip 2023Juniors Anna Leitner and Aaron Brown, along with Joe Blasdel, director of speech and debate at McKendree University, explored contemporary and traditional Japanese life and connected with students from around the world in June as guests of Technos International College in Tokyo. Technos International College partners with McKendree and other universities around the world to promote Japanese culture and to strengthen American-Japanese ties in an annual study program. This is the first time since students have met in person for the annual event since 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These Bearcats took cultural classes, saw the Imperial Palace, visited Mt. Fuji, and explored Shinjuku, Shibuya, and other parts of the surrounding region. Classes consisted of active learning activities, art classes, anime theater and dubbing, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, and more.

“Wearing a kimono and taking part of a tea ceremony was a situation I never thought I would be in, but it was really fun!” Aaron said. “Seeing the traditional side was really neat, especially since we think of the technology side a lot when it comes to Japan.”

Anna’s favorite part was staying with her host family, whose father was a teacher in Technos, along with sightseeing in Tokyo and building connections with the Technos students.

“We also got to meet up with junior Runa Tsuzuki, a Japanese student who currently attends McKendree with us,” Anna said. “Getting to step into her lifestyle and experience it from our side was really neat.”

Aaron enjoyed meeting and making friends with the Japanese students and participants from other schools in the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. “Seeing Mt. Fuji was also really great. We also took the Mt. Fuji 5th Station, the highest you can drive up on the mountain, and it was gorgeous,” Aaron said.

Joe found beauty in the country’s nature. Along with Aaron and Anna, he was fascinated with the language and enjoyed conversing with others.

“It was interesting and fun participating in conversations when you had to figure out what the other person is saying,” Joe said. “Some people were more prepared and many were patient in the language. It was a challenge but really fascinating trying to figure those things out.”

The trio reports that there weren’t many language barriers and the Technos students spoke English very well.

“Even when we didn’t fully understand each other in language, we always found a way to communicate,” Anna said.

Now that they’re back home from their adventures, the group wholeheartedly recommends students to apply and experience Technos for themselves.

“As someone who’s never been out of the country, it really broadened my mind,” Anna said. “It makes me want to travel the world even more. It was such an amazing experience!”

“It’s hard to be immersed in the culture without living there,” Aaron added. “This experience is about as immersive as it can be, especially when you meet students and they show you around and invite you to places. There’s nothing like it!”