Friday Letter, 6-2-17

I am in route on the way back from Japan.  Partnerships, communication, & trust. Those are the concepts that were an important part of my week in Japan.  And, they are the concepts that help Cascadia thrive.

Meagan, Anthony and I spent this week visiting with our partners at Trajal Hospitality & Tourism College at their campuses in Osaka and Toyko. Both experiences were similar and rewarding.  We spent time at each campus visiting with alumni from the Cascadia English program.  Most of them have returned to Trajal to complete their third and final year before entering the workplace.  One of the students, Toki, has graduated from Trajal and now works for American Express.

These students had in common their desire to improve their English and work in our global community. From internships and opportunities in the Maldives, cruise ships, Saipan, and other places, they all shared with us just how important their ELP instructors were and how fortunate they were to stay with host families and make friends at Cascadia.  At least three of them found significant others.  (I guess that was a bonus for them.)  Meagan and I were also able to witness the strong bond between Anthony and the students.  I want to take a moment to thank Anthony for being our guide, for organizing the trip, and for strongly supporting these students.

We also visited with first year students who will be at Cascadia starting next December. Trajal emphasized to them that Cascadia is challenging.  They wanted to make sure the students were ready for the academic rigor.  And, during our visit at the Tokyo campus, we spent time with the study abroad coordinator and main English teacher.  He is from rural Japan but learned English in London and had an Italian host family.  The worldwide influences on these students, teachers, and campuses were enormous.  And for Cascadia’s sake, I appreciate that we have the program and partnership; it is an important role for Cascadia in our global community.  Some of us may not think of the Trajal students as “Cascadia” students, but in fact they very much think of themselves as Cascadia alumni.  Their entire careers across the globe and with major companies come back to their success in learning English right here in Bothell.

These partnerships are not just overseas. I had the opportunity to chat with both Susan Jeffords (Vice Chancellor at UWB) and Ana Mari Cauce (President of UW) this week.  We discussed our shared desires to make sure our campuses can fully welcome and support our international students.  From UW Bothell’s creation of a new student Diversity Center, their work with faculty and staff to promote pluralism, and our on-going efforts to educate in the wake of micro-aggressions, we share a desire to create the best possible experience and support for all of our students.  I am grateful that we can send our students back to Japan with good memories, and I am grateful that many of our students can transfer next door and experience the same commitment to diversity and pluralism that is at the core of Cascadia and UW.

Last week I shared the story of one of our Japanese students. The take-away for all of us (Susan, Ana Mari, our Trajal teacher, Meagan, and myself) was that our work to create supportive environments never ends.  I know from talking to many of our students who transfer to UWB that last week’s story is not typical of their experiences there; I also know that our partners at UW Bothell (who read the Friday Letter!) took this feedback seriously.  Though Cascadia and UW Bothell have both worked hard to ensure welcoming environments for all students, we know that we can do more.  We must constantly educate our students, faculty, and staff.  We must constantly understand that we all bear responsibility for creating positive learning experiences.  UWB, Cascadia, and Trajal have that in common.  I am happy that we are partners.  I am happy that we can have confidence that our students will thrive when they head back to Japan, or when they head next door.

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