Kyushu University: Virtual Student Exchange Program opened up new opportunities

With the aim of promoting an international collaborative education program in the Asia-Pacific region, Kyushu University’s College of Asia Pacific, a short-term study abroad and international education collaborative program for Japanese and international students, has collaborated with APRU’s (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities) Virtual Student Exchange Program (VSE) on an online course that enrichens the learning experience for students both here and abroad by allowing students from APRU member universities to take part in the Kyushu U-led program.

Under the theme of “Japanese Society in the Era of Globalization,” the course was held online from April 15 to June 10 and instructed by Hiroko Kinoshita, Associate Professor of the International Student Center, which organizes the College of Asia Pacific. Students from diverse backgrounds at Kyushu University and APRU member universities learned together and deepened their understanding of Japanese society and culture as well as common issues in the Asia-Pacific region through lectures, discussions, and group work.

Lively discussions were conducted in both English and Japanese on topics of “Gender roles in Japanese society,” “Religious diversity in Japan,” and “Education,” allowing students to exchange ethical values from various perspectives, such as those of people from Japan, China, and Hong Kong. These classes enabled students to realize new discoveries and awareness and achieve a new form of cross-cultural exchange utilizing the internet. On the final day of the class, students from Kyushu University and APRU member universities paired up to give presentations on the differences and challenges of the education systems in Japan and their own countries.

According to the students’ feedback, the course provided meaningful opportunities for them, as highlighted by the following selected comments.

Under recent difficulties of studying abroad, it was a valuable opportunity for me to interact with students from other countries.
I was made aware of the bias in my own perspective, which made me think about going outside actively and gaining experience to interact with different perspectives in the future.
It was a good opportunity for me to realize the similarities and differences between Japan and other countries.
Through this and future courses, the program is providing students with the opportunity to take their first step to join the international community and to cultivate global competence to become global citizens.