By Madeline Mask
From March 8 to March 16, five Japanese students accompanied by a faculty member from Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College visited Notre Dame of Maryland University through a cultural exchange hosted by the Elizabeth Morrissy Honors Program. According to Dr. Jeana DelRosso, Director of the Morrissy Honors Program and faculty member of the English Department, the exchange program with Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College has existed for decades. Dr. DelRosso explains, “In the mid-1990s Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College invited Notre Dame of Maryland University to send two students and a faculty member at their expense to their campus in Tokyo.” The exchange eventually evolved to five students and a faculty member from Notre Dame visiting Tokyo and Aoyama every other year with the Aoyama group doing the same in the years in between.
Dr. DelRosso, along with the Office of International Programs, English Language Institute and other faculty and staff at Notre Dame, facilitate the exchange program. Preparation for the Japanese students’ visit began a year ago; Dr. DelRosso says, “The work is incredibly detail-oriented, including planning each meal, transportation to every outing, tickets for events [and] class schedules.” However, it’s not just all work and no play. Dr. DelRosso planned many special events for the Japanese students, “from classes, receptions and dinners on campus to day trips to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Washington DC and New York City.” As the primary hosts, Dr. DelRosso states that Morrissy students escorted the Japanese students to the English Language Institute and Women’s College classes. They also “[joined] them on day trips, [took] them shopping at local stores and [engaged] with them daily in conversation and adventures.”
The Japanese students’ visit provided Morrissy students and other Notre Dame students with an opportunity to experience a different culture. As Dr. DelRosso boasts, she is most excited “about the great cultural exchange opportunity.” The exchange program cultivates Notre Dame’s mission to educate women, transforming the world. A Notre Dame woman cannot transform the world without interacting with cultures apart from her own. This exchange program effectively unites women from differing cultures through hospitality, education and kindness, fostering friendships that know no bounds of borders.