JCMU held their third alumni event of the year on Wednesday, September 7th at the Michigan State University Detroit Center in Detroit, Michigan. The event was open to all JCMU alumni, prospective students, and faculty from around the nation that help make study abroad possible for many of our students. The night began with a short formal program, with opening remarks given by JCMU’s fiscal officer, Kitty Douglass.
Following this, JCMU was honored to welcome Consul General Mitsuhiro Wada from the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit. Consul General Wada was grateful for the opportunity to speak in front of many JCMU alumni in and around the Metro Detroit area. He then praised JCMU for all that the organization has done since its inception in 1988, stating that “JCMU’s commitment to the creation of stronger ties between Michigan and Shiga through international education is unmatched.” He believes that it is directly due to JCMU’s promotion of global education that foreign language education and cross-cultural communications between Shiga and Michigan have seen significant improvements in the past few decades. In looking to the future of JCMU, Consul General Wada states that he looks “forward to the continual growth of this organization and the ever expanding variety of activities that they will hold.”
Following his remarks about JCMU, Consul General Wada turned his attention towards the strong ties shared between Shiga Prefecture and the State of Michigan. The two great states will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Michigan-Shiga sister state relationship in 2018, and it is his belief that these ties have never been stronger. Culturally, various exchange programs between Michigan and Shiga continue to be highly successful, most notably the Goodwill Mission. These exchanges have fostered heightened cultural interest in each others’ cultures and societies. “I have truly enjoyed meeting so many Michiganders here who have also developed an interest in studying Japanese traditional culture including: martial arts, bonsai, tea ceremony, ikebana, calligraphy and more.” Economically, Japan remains one of the largest foreign investors in Michigan to this day. “Today Japan has about 500 Michigan based facilities that provide about 40,000 jobs, ” Consul General Wada was happy to say. He concluded his speech with a message to all present JCMU alumni: “I hope that you all, utilizing your Japanese culture knowledge and experience acquired at JCMU, will contribute to our shared strength as ‘ambassadors’ who connect Michigan and Japan.”
After thanking Consul General Wada for taking the time to speak at the event, Kate Simon, the director of JCMU, invited all present alumni to introduce themselves and discuss briefly how their time in Hikone affected them. It allowed all present to see how varied everyone’s paths in life were while still being connected as former JCMU students. Whether they were Japanese language or photography majors, all alumni were able to say that their time in Japan continues to benefit them professionally and is one of their most cherished memories. It is our distinguished alumni that allow us to continue serving the Shiga and Michigan communities as we do today, so we would like to thank them for providing us with their support and reconnecting with us at the event.
We would like to thank everyone who attended the JCMU Alumni Night in Detroit. JCMU gives special thanks to Consul General Wada for speaking to our alumni and the MSU Detroit Center for so graciously hosting our event. This will be our last alumni event of 2016, but stay tuned for more details about our planned events for next year!