• 45°

Area students can participate in OU international program

ATHENS — It’s a chance for southeastern Ohio high school students to stretch their horizons without doing much damage to their — or their parents’ — pocketbook.

It’s Ohio University’s “Go International” program, now in its fifth year. It’s open to any ninth, 10th and 11th graders and offers a one or two-week cultural experience learning about the Japanese culture by living with students from Japan.

“The goal is to try to create a cross-cultural experience for both Japanese and American students in Southeastern Ohio, “Gerry Krzic, director of the intensive English program at OU, said. “A lot of Ohio students may not have the means to travel overseas. This give the cultural international experience at an affordable price.”

Ohio students can live in an OU dorm, or commute, and study basic Japanese in the classroom and with their Japanese counterparts. They will study Japanese each morning for two hours with an instructor as the Japanese students are studying English. Then they will come together for a cross-cultural class. Three times a week there will be planned social activities for the two groups.

The state of Ohio has a sister-city relationship with the Saitama province in Japan and through contacts of Krzic students from that area were able to come to Athens to study.

So far, Krzic has found the feedback for the program positive with local students coming back for more than one year.

“I remember one student saying ‘I want to come for two-weeks next time to get the full impact,’ ” he said. “I think they have learned a lot about Japan and learned about themselves trying to explain their culture which is not always so easy to do.”

As to tackling a language with both unique sounds and alphabet, students have discovered they can rise to the challenge.

“They find out it is not as intimidating as they thought,” Krzic said. “The kids come away with a positive experience with Japanese. They come out speaking a little bit.”

The first session runs from Sunday, July 26 to Friday, July 31. The second begins on Sunday, Aug. 2 to Friday, Aug. 7. Students may sign up for a one-week or the two-week session.

Cost is $230, which covers the dorm room, meals from Monday breakfast to Friday lunch, classes, activities and field trips. If participating students live in the Athens area, they may commute. The fee is then $60 for classes, lunch, activities and field trips.

Students will receive an Ohio University certificate for completing the program. For more information and an application, contact Veronica Bagnole at (740) 593-4574.