25 Students Sent to America through the 10th START Program

24 undergraduate first-grade students took part in the 10th START Program *, and 1 master’s student attended the JMU Master Spring Classes for a period of two weeks from March 13 to March 28, 2013. Led by Associate Professor Taiji Hotta (International Center) and another teaching staff member, the students were dispatched to study at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

During the two-week period of their stay, the participants of the START Program experienced campus life by living in a dormitory and sharing rooms with local students, who acted as RAs (Resident Advisors). On weekdays they listened to lectures on American society and culture held by JMU teachers and attended ordinary JMU lessons with the RA host students. During their free time they frequented the sports gym on the campus. The participants were astonished to see American students studying in the library all night after having played billiards until 10 in the evening - doing their best at work and play - and admired their energy. The HU students were stimulated by this lifestyle of having fun while keeping one’s goal firmly in mind. Although sometimes they were frustrated because their English was not good enough for fluent conversation, many of the participants intended to keep an active and positive attitude and realized the importance of having one’s own opinion and mind. Aside from the university, students also visited a fire station, a police station, Montpelier (the estate of James Madison, fourth President of the United States), and the Shenandoah Caverns. Furthermore they were invited to their teachers’ homes and took part in the International Students’ Council. On the last day, they had their RAs as guests and held a presentation in English about “The Culture of Hugging”, “Differences in American and Japanese Awareness of Food” and “Cartoons in Japan and America”, showing their impressions and achievements from their two-week stay.

The JMU Master Spring Classes participant had her own subject of research, and worked actively and autonomously from the beginning, having discussions with local teachers , collecting material at the library , attending ordinary lessons and visiting elementary and junior high schools - all things she couldn’t do while staying in Japan.

During their stay, the HU students had also the opportunity to see the inauguration ceremony of the new president. As presidents at JMU have no term of office, inaugurations are held only once in several decades and the HU students were very honored to be part of this rare ceremony.

It was a hard schedule without much rest, but all of the participants cheerfully completed the whole journey and after the end of the Program talked about how they wanted to use their frustration they felt this time from communicating in English, as a spring to improve their English proficiency. Students also said that they won’t forget the attitude of tackling things positively, and that they want to try a full-scale study abroad program now, such as a student exchange. They greatly expressed desires for further growth.

* The START Program provides first year students who have little overseas experience the opportunity to attend lectures and see everyday-life at a foreign partner university in order to raise interest in international/cross-cultural activities and studying abroad. It was established in 2010 and by the end of first term of 2012, it has already been held seven times. This was the tenth time the program was held. The Hiroshima University Fund financially supports part of the research expenses to lessen students’ economic burden and to give a broader population of students the opportunity to study abroad. The participants went to study abroad following a 2-month training period before departure. Back in Japan, they had a follow-up session.

The Classroom Atmosphere

The Madison Festival after the President’s Inauguration

Being Greeted by the Host RAs

Giving a Presentation in English on the Last Day

Group Photo with the Host RAs


International Exchange Group,

Education and International Office,

Hiroshima University



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