Published: Feb. 9, 2017

“Sumimasen!” This Japanese word proved invaluable for Leeds students to get someone's attention, say thank you, or even sorry when participating in a recent trip to Japan in January. For these 23 students, this experience proved to be enriching as they learned how international cultures and businesses operate and took part in a global project.

Dean's Global Experience 2017

The entire group of 23 students pose outside in Hachinohe city in the Aomori Prefecture before touring the Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery est. 1775.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan selected Leeds to be one of a few handpicked schools to participate in the Kakehashi Project, which encourages and promotes future friendships between Japan and North America through cultural and business understanding. Leeds selected high-performing students who were interested in travel abroad opportunities. 18 undergraduates and 5 MS/MBA students along with two of our Leeds faculty, Kristi Ryujin, and Manuel Laguna participated.

The trip included traveling to three major areas of Japan – Tokyo, Hachinohe, and Nanbu Town. In addition to participating in the Kakehashi Project, students met with company representatives from NetApp (a data storage company), Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery (a longstanding brewery established in 1775), and Yamayo (a seafood company owned by Mr. Kenji Machida, a Leeds alumnus). The visit also provided a chance for students to participate in a homestay with local farm families. “The homestay was the best part. Our group of four girls stayed with a family on a farm in Hachinohe. It was important to see the culture in action. The father was really proud of his work on the farm and would love for his children to take over one day,” remarked Amberly Grant (Mgmt ‘17). The trip concluded with a presentation from the students to the Kakehashi Project about their experience and recommendations for bettering economic relations between Japan and the United States.

Dean's Global Experience 2017

Leeds students, Caleb, Zak, and Cody, enjoy a meal with their homestay family in Nanbu Town, where locals do not speak any English.

Students Amberly Grant and Andrew Allen felt like their study abroad trip helped enrich their overall Leeds experience. “I have made friends with students I wouldn’t otherwise have known, and those friendships and contacts will be with me after I graduate from Leeds. When I look back on my experience at Leeds, this trip will be one of the highlights,” said Grant. With culture appreciation being a large focus of the trip, Andrew Allen (Fin ‘18) felt like he was able to learn about the nuances that the Japanese focused on when doing business that allowed their customers to feel secure and willing to come back in the future. “To me, [this trip to Japan] was really valuable because it taught me how to appreciate differences in culture and respect them in a personal and a business setting,” remarked Allen.

With a greater understanding of global business, cultural differences, and immersion in a foreign country, students come back to Leeds from these international opportunities and can apply their new knowledge to both current experiences in the classroom and in the future. “Trips like these often prove invaluable for students traveling abroad with Leeds for the first time when they are able to mix both culture and business, especially due to the great generosity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Kakehashi Project,” stated Manuel Laguna.

To learn more about Leeds global experiences, visit