• Building a connection between Waco and Japan

    Green and gold textile printBaylor students can take as many as nine classes in Japanese, from Introductory Japanese to Japanese Civilization. The university does not yet offer a major in Japanese, but you wouldn’t know it for all the honors Baylor students are earning in the subject.

    A year and a half ago, it was Houston native Rachel McCutchen winning the Dallas Regional Japanese Language Speech Contest and placing second at the state level. In January, McCutchen and another student, China Spring’s Katherine Farley, were the first Baylor students inducted into the Japanese Honor Society College Chapter.

    This summer, Connecticut native Andrew Leistensnider, a junior University Scholar with emphasis in economics, attended the selective Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) across the Pacific and was elected to the JASC’s executive committee. Since the 1930s, the JASC has brought together delegations of American and Japanese students in order to develop relations between the U.S. and Japan.

    Leistensnider is one of eight Americans who will partner with eight students from Japan to plan next year’s conference. “As an executive committee, we build our program from scratch and make it unique and give it a theme,” he says. “Then we invite the delegates to come into the space that we built and give them a place to take their leadership and use the opportunities we give them to become leaders and make it (the conference) their own.”

    Next year’s conference will visit four sites in the U.S.; two of those, Dallas and Madison, Wisc., have already been selected. Baylor Japanese Professor Yuko Prefume noted that Dallas’ proximity to Baylor could allow the delegates to visit Baylor on a day trip — “a great opportunity to introduce how great Baylor is to both American and Japanese students,” she says.

    Sic ’em, Andrew!

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