Students from Japanese school
 immersed in Western culture

Four of the 37 college exchange students from Asian countries work together on a Dream Vacation project at Grand Mesa Residence Hall on the Colorado Mesa University campus. From left to right are Japanese students Ryota Takahahi and Kaori Mori, Zou Yuteng of China, and Yumi Oyama of Japan.

During his first two weeks in the United States, 20-year-old Japanese college student Koki Numata has toured Colorado National Monument, gone snowshoeing and rifled through the local fashions at Walmart.

It’s a much different experience from his life in Tokyo, where he works part-time at Tokyo Disneyland while attending JTB Travel and Hotel College to learn how to become a travel coordinator.

But he’s a fan of Grand Junction.

“We like Colorado. My host family is very kind,” he said.

Numata is one of 37 students from JTB Travel and Hotel College in Tokyo who are two weeks into a three-week English immersion course in Grand Junction. The travel students stay with host families during the exchange, go to class in a conference room in Colorado Mesa University’s Grand Mesa Residence Hall and take trips to nearby attractions.

Although the group goes to class and usually eats lunch on the Colorado Mesa campus, their teachers are not Colorado Mesa University professors and their immersion course is offered through local agency Cultural Exchanges, Inc., not CMU.

Retired teachers Colleen Fjeseth and Jody Sigle are hired by Cultural Exchanges to help the students fine-tune their English skills by having them read children’s books, practice writing and speaking English, and working on projects in English, including putting together a 30-day “dream vacation” scenario complete with the costs of air travel, hotels and passports.

“We’re just breaking the communication barrier,” Fjeseth said.

While the purpose of the exchange is to work on English skills more than their travel education, tourism is part of the curriculum.

The class will take day trips to Glenwood Springs, Moab, Utah, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park before leaving Colorado this Friday.

Zou Yuteng, 23, has enjoyed the trips to Glenwood and Black Canyon and said nature is her favorite part about studying here.

She said Colorado National Monument is what attracted her to the trip, but she might try something different on her next visit to the U.S.

“Maybe this summer I will go to New York City,” she said.


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