The WCU contingent gets together at Nike offices. The group includes (from left) Alex Sapp, Yanjun Yan, David Tyler, Shannon Wladyka, Troy Hudson, Blair Watts, Jonathan Mashburn, Rafee Rivera and Robert Spivey. Nike’s Takuya Yamada is on the far right.

Seven Western Carolina University students went on a journey of discovery with faculty members Yanjun Yan and David Tyler via faculty-led travel courses to Japan after the conclusion of WCU’s 2019 spring semester.

The trip was related to a course taught in WCU’s College of Engineering and Technology, “Global Engineering and Technology,” and a second course offered through the Sport Management Program, “Global Sport and Culture.” The students and faculty members made stops in Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka and several towns in between. “The travelers were enthralled by the Japanese people’s dedication to perfection and their top-notch hospitality,” said Yan, associate professor in the College of Engineering and Technology. “The interdisciplinary and holistic learning proved to be more effective than in either course alone.”

Putting the trip together involved a three-year planning effort and a collaboration with three other WCU faculty members – Soichiro Motohashi and Yumiko Ono from the Japanese Program and Scott Rader from the Marketing Program, said Tyler, associate professor with the Sport Management Program. Motohashi was instrumental in establishing many connections and he also led his own Japanese class along similar travel routes at the same time, Tyler said. Both groups were able to share some cultural activities together, including a visit to the Meiji Jingu shrine, attendance at a sumo wrestling match and hiking on Miyajima Island. “The students learned a lot about Japanese culture during these activities, but also accomplished the distinct learning outcomes of each class,” he said.

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Originally published Aug. 29, 2019.

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