In late July, the Japan Center (JCMU) was fortunate enough to attend this year’s very first Dokidokon anime convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan!
From July 28th through the 30th, we hosted a booth at Dokidokon to highlight our study abroad opportunities in Japan for convention participants. The convention staff was really excited to work with us in promoting our Japan study abroad programs, and we were in turn excited to encourage anime fans in the area to join us there.
This was our first convention since our mascot, Hiraku, joined the team, and he was excited to be there! As our adorable bilingual borb (bird-orb), he loved speaking to people about how much fun study abroad can be. Hiraku discovered that most of the attendees were in love with Japanese culture (notably pop culture), which is awesome! However, few people at Dokidokon were aware of the study abroad opportunities available that would allow them to actually go to Japan.
Improving awareness of study abroad – this became Hiraku’s goal!
Students of all ages visited Hiraku and discovered our study abroad options in Hikone. Many of those that visited JCMU’s booths at other Michigan conventions were excited to meet our borb mascot. College students from our Consortium schools (including Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan University) were surprised to find out that they received discounted rates to all JCMU programs! A few alumni stop by as well, where Hiraku told them about our upcoming events and initiatives.
A great deal of high school students and their parents were in attendance, and many of their faces lit up with glee when Hiraku introduced them to the Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange. On this program, 15 Michigan high school students are selected to go to Japan for two weeks in the summer. There, they live with a host family and attend their host sibling’s Japanese high school! A couple of months later, their Japanese host sibling then comes to Michigan to live with them and attend their high school. It’s a one-of-a-kind program that helps both our Michigan and Shiga students gain an international perspective on their worldviews. Oh, and they get to be in Japan – how cool is that?
The event prided itself on being a convention with heart, and it showed with how wonderful the attendees and staff were. Many parents and current students introduced themselves to Hiraku, and wanted to know where they could get their own swan borb plush toy! He had a whole lot of fun speaking with everybody about Hikone, and he hopes that he encouraged more people to study abroad in Japan.
At the end of every day, Hiraku snuck around to see all of the fun activities that Dokidokon had to offer!
The convention hosted a large collection of artists and anime-related vendors, giving Hiraku a chance to meet with others interested in Japanese culture.
In addition, Dokidokon hosted a game room complete with various games related to Japanese pop culture.
Furthermore, there were concerts, panels, and photo shoots at all times of the day, meaning that there was always something fun to do at the convention.
JCMU and Hiraku would like to thank Dokidokon for allowing us to introduce more con-goers to the world of study abroad in Japan. We hope this helps more students become aware of the study abroad possibilities available to them and encourages them to go on a program in Hikone themselves. If you were a Dokidokon attendee that visited our booth and would like to learn more about the wide array of programs that we offer, please visit the JCMU website.