Although the pandemic has made life harder in a lot of ways, for some College of Informatics students, it has made it easier to connect with students on the other side of the world. Last semester, students in Yasue Kuwahara’s POP 345 “Japanese Pop Culture” class teamed up with students from Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan to learn more about each other’s cultures through the larger COIL project between Nanzan and NKU.
COIL, short for Collaborative Online International Learning, allows students to learn more about how Japanese students live their everyday lives by connecting directly with these students and forming personal relationships. Although this is a program that has been ongoing for many years, the increased online activity during the pandemic has made it more accessible to students and an appealing choice given the circumstances.
NKU students participate in discussion boards, surveys and Zoom meetings with Nanzan students. These opportunities allow them to connect with Nanzan students one on one, and focus on the topics they want to learn more about. Then, the NKU students use the content from their exchanges in a class project covering their topic of choice; for student Jeff Lynne the international exchange has been a great way to learn about baseball in Japan.
Lynne, a computer information technology major and a minor in Japanese said, “we do interviews to gain first-hand knowledge. I’m doing my project on the baseball tournament they do in Japan. One of the Nanzan students is really interested in baseball, so I’m going to interview him about his experiences. The first meeting was a little weird because of the time difference; they were just waking up and we were about to go to bed, but it was really fun.”
Kuwahara said she hopes this experience will encourage her students to embrace other cultures and pursue study abroad opportunities. “Hopefully this will increase their interest in studying abroad. This will be an international experience for the students. Many of them are already hoping to study abroad; this is their introduction to communicating with someone from another culture.”
To learn more about the Popular Culture program at NKU, visit its website.