Ken Freemen, a professor of Introduction to Japanese Culture at Salt Lake Community College (International Studies 2990), who has been working with students involved in the Study Abroad program, will be leading this year’s group on an adventure to Japan, a country they’ve never explored before.
The study abroad department has been taking such a trip for about ten years. Freeman says that even though this will be his second time around, his knowledge of, and experience living in Japan while at a young age, will enable his group to better understand what to expect.
“On the surface, it’s very different from America,” Freeman says, “That makes it very intriguing,” said Freeman. Freeman also expresses his love for the culture and his understanding of the language while describing his experience, as well as his love for Japanese food. “It’s a great country,” he says.
For three weeks, Freeman and his group of 11 students will be studying abroad, but for a particular purpose.
Kathy Gross, a student of study abroad and recent graduate of Salt Lake Community College, who majored as a physical therapist assistant says, “Learning this culture and how they function is going to help me with my career, being able to assist and help the Japanese.” She explains that her class is reading a book called Kata, which is about Kataization in Japan, and explains the specific way in which the Japanese do things.
“The Japanese, live towards something called ‘wah’, which demonstrates harmony. It’s very peaceful and quiet,” says Gross.
“Major reasons for going are so we can have a cultural experience,” he explains, “Have the students live in and operate in another culture, to get an appreciation for the Japanese history and culture and to feel more comfortable around folks that grow up in a culture other than their own.”
Upon arriving at their destination of Osaka, which is several hours south of Tokyo, on the southern island of Japan, Freeman indicates that SLCC students will be guests of Shitennoji University, a Buddhist university.
“They host us,” says Freeman, “We stay on their campus and take classes from them in language and culture and arts.”
Freeman says that they will be traveling to places like Nara and Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was dropped at the end of WWII.
Lauren Stehle, a SLCC student in the study abroad program, expresses her passion for art and hopes to gain a better understanding of how the Japanese implements art into their lifestyle.
“They’re very specific with their art,” Stehle says, “I wanna learn a lot about their culture and art.”
“We take a number of excursions to areas like castles and cultural sites,” Freeman says.
“The actual cost for the program is $2,900 per person,” says Freeman. “Which is a steal, in terms of what we’re going to do.”
While in Japan, the group has been given the opportunity to be part of a traditional Japanese “Chi” ceremony, which, in the words of professor Freeman, “Is actually a thousand years old.”
Of course, taking a little side trip seems convenient when it comes to exploring Japanese food. “We’re gonna go to the Ramen Noodle Factory in Osaka,” says Freeman.
However, it’s a combination of classroom work and cultural excursions when it comes to partial purposes of the trip. “There’s a fair amount of free time,” he explains, “Usually they make friends with Japanese college students very quickly.”
Sam Warchol SLCC student involved with study abroad says,”I really want to see all the temples, gold, and relics they have.” Warchol tells us that these things are some of the most sacred things the Japanese have.
Warchol also tells of his curiosity for Japanese vending machines. “I’ve heard you can buy a tuxedo out of a vending machine,” he says.
But Warchol is especially excited about the prospect of attending a baseball game. “They are the best over there with baseball,” he explains, “I just want to see what it’s all about.”
“Preparation and planning usually starts a year in advance of the trip,” Freeman explains.