Nearly 300 Japanese students and teachers are finishing a four-day stay in Spokane as part of an expanding international exchange.
Community Colleges of Spokane launched the program two years ago, but this week’s visit is the largest so far, said Irene Ponce, coordinator of international programs for the colleges.
The visit ends today with a Japanese spring festival and tea ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Lair student center at Spokane Community College. It is open to the public.
Ponce said the festival adds a cross-cultural note to what’s been largely an educational visit.
The students and teachers are from 13 privately run schools of the Osaka Colleges of High Technology and Medical Technology.
The visitors are touring SCC and local hospitals to learn more about two-year degree programs in the health-care field. One group of students is studying operation and repair of biomedical equipment. Another group is training as medical secretaries.
“They are getting a glimpse of what our health-care system offers,” Ponce said.
“It’s an international exchange, a training exchange, a people exchange.”
This week’s visit will be followed next week by two more contingents involving several hundred students and teachers from Osaka who are studying other health-care programs at Spokane Falls Community College and SCC.
The exchange started in 1994 with about 60 students and teachers, and grew to about 90 visitors last year.
Another part of the exchange involves trips by Spokane instructors to Japan to help them develop allied health programs.
Hiroyuki Nakano of Osaka was an exchange student last year but is now enrolled as a full-time student in biomedical equipment technology at SCC.
Earning a degree in the United States will help him get a job as a salesman or service representative for an American medical equipment company, he said.
“Here the (health care) field is very big,” said Nakano.
Henry Peden, an instructor in biomedical equipment technology, said the Japanese medical system is beginning to hire more technical workers, such as those being trained at colleges here.
The cost of the exchange program is being paid by the Osaka colleges.
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