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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 14, 2007

Photos: Yamaguchi Makiko, a Joetsu University of Education teacher and a master student,teaches Weber Elementary School student Madi Purdy how to play with kazaguruma, a pinwheel, during a previous visit. (photo, left) Both the teachers from Joetsu University of Education and local students have fun learning together. (photo, right)

Partnership brings Japanese education students to UI, schools Sept. 16-23

A group of Japanese students from Joetsu University of Education will spend eight days visiting local attractions and offering an exchange of cultures at Weber Elementary School in Iowa City, and Hoover Elementary and West Branch Middle Schools in West Branch Sunday, Sept. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 23. The group will also take part in several events on the University of Iowa campus.

This educational experience provides a short immersion into international education, and will engage American students in Japanese language and culture through presentations and classroom observations by 17 teachers-in-training. The group of education students will visit Weber Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 17 and 18, and Hoover and West Branch Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 19 and 20.

"The cooperation of the two schools in hosting the Joetsu students is an integral part of the success of this program," said Buffy Quintero, UI International Programs outreach coordinator. "The students from Japan take the responsibility as serving as cultural ambassadors very seriously. They have been preparing their lessons on traditional stories, kimono culture, traditional Japanese toys and sumo wrestling for months."

The visit is part of a global collaboration between the UI and the Japanese teaching university, a relationship that spans 10 years, and it marks the third trip from the group in the past five years. This connection is one of more than 60 formal partnerships between the UI and international institutions.

According to Diana Davies, UI International Programs director, the UI's relationship with the Joetsu University of Education goes back at least to 1998, when then UI President Mary Sue Coleman signed an agreement to establish a formal linkage between Joetsu and the UI College of Education. Since that time, the relationship has developed to encompass a campus-wide student exchange agreement a general agreement on the exchange of education and research, and a short-term student exchange between Joetsu and the College of Education. Faculty and scholars from Joetsu also make regular visits to Iowa. At the present time, a professor from the Joetsu School of Music is here studying music education.

"Perhaps one of the most successful aspects of this relationship, though, has been the regular visits of Joetsu education students to Iowa," Davies said. "These students have been able to really get to know Iowans through home stays, arranged by the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities, potluck picnics, and visits to area schools. Through the school visits and presentations, the students have had an opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the primary and secondary education system here in Iowa, and K-12 students have been able to learn about Japan directly from Japanese people. Real connections are made through this program -- not just between our two institutions, but between the Joetsu students and Iowa children, teachers, school principals and community members."

Part of the visit includes an examination of the U.S. educational system. Peter Hlebowitsh, professor in the UI College of Education, will discuss the differences between teacher education in America and Japan.

"It's always great to have students from other parts of the world who are teacher educators," said Gregory Hamot, coordinator of international students and programs in the UI College of Education. "The long-standing agreement involves an exchange of research based ideas, an exchange of scholars, and an exchange of students."

University of Iowa International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Reporters or photographers who wish to cover this event should check in at the main office of Weber Elementary School, 3850 Rohret Road, Iowa City; Hoover Elementary, 148 N. Oliphant St., West Branch; or West Branch Middle School, 225 N. Maple St., West Branch.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Buffy Quintero, 319-335-0345,; Kelli Andresen, 319-335-2026,; Writer: Christy B. Logan