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UNG hosts Japan-America Summit and film series as part of its international partnerships

Dr. Tomoe Nishio gives students special instruction during her Elementary Japanese class at UNG.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is a partner in hosting the 26th annual Japan-America Grassroots Summit Oct. 4-11 to further Japanese relations and promote the university’s up and coming academic degree in Japanese studies. Over 130 Japanese visitors will be coming to Georgia this year to participate in the summit.

"As a partner, UNG will host approximately 30 guests from Japan who will attend cultural events in Atlanta then stay with their host families in Athens, Dahlonega and Gainesville, in partnership with the UNG campus in that community, during the visit," said Dr. Edward Mienie, UNG's associate vice president for economic development and community engagement, and chair of UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development Committee (REED).

"This year's summit will highlight Georgia culture and customs, local attractions, and the unique business relations between Japan and the Peach State for more than two decades, which profited $16.38 billion in 2015."

The REED Initiative assisted in developing this trans-cultural experience to reinforce the extensive economic ties between Japan and Georgia, expand access to higher education from the local, national and international levels, and increase partnerships and collaborations with a variety of business, government, educational, and community leaders. UNG’s Center for Global Engagement also assisted in facilitating the opportunity through extensive partnerships regionally and internationally.

The summit is part of a collaboration with the Japan Foundation, the Japan-America Society of Georgia, YKK Corporation of America, and the John Manjiro Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange. The cities of Athens, Dahlonega, Gainesville and their Chambers of Commerce, have also been strong partners in this initiative, along with UNG’s office of Leadership and Global Engagement.

Earlier this year, UNG was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Japan Foundation to provide visiting speakers, faculty specialists in Japanese culture, language and history, and study abroad programs in Japan for 15 UNG students per academic year. The grant is typically awarded to three or four universities per year, but UNG was the only one to be selected for 2016.

Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts & Letters, believes in the future success and continued expansion of UNG’s Asian studies program. "UNG has already made a significant institutional commitment to East Asian studies. This grant from the Japan Foundation will move us along in the process of establishing an undergraduate degree by creating a directorship to oversee the degree program and augmenting UNG's library resources."

As part of the grant UNG will also host the 12th Japan Foundation film series in the Continuing Education Auditorium on the Gainesville Campus on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, and in the Library-Technology Center on Oct. 6 on the Dahlonega Campus. The films will focus on the theme of life in rural Japan – 'Wood JOB!' and 'Ecotherapy Gataway Holiday' are comedies and 'Climbing to Spring' is a drama –  Drs. Tomoe Nishio, assistant professor of Japanese, Candice Wilson, assistant professor of film and digital media, and Robin O’Day, assistant professor of anthropology and Japanese culture at UNG, will present the films as part of the cultural exchange.

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