The Clover Park Technical College Lakewood Campus served as a cross-cultural center of learning last week, as a group of students from Japan’s Osaka Jikei College partnered with CPTC’s Medical Laboratory and Medical Histology Technician programs for a study tour and cultural exchange.
The three-day tour began with Wednesday morning’s meet and greet and concluded Friday afternoon with gift exchanges, student speeches and group photos. It was all the continuation of a partnership between the two colleges stretching back more than a decade. The first cultural exchange tour from Osaka Jikei to CPTC came in 2005.
“Osaka Jikei College emphasizes international education as a requirement, so they have several partner schools they work with for study tours,” CPTC international education program specialist Yuko Chartraw said. “The coordinator of their program reached out to us about a partnership, and we’ve been working with them since then.”
Over time the program has grown. It was initially a once-yearly trip, but about five years ago the Osaka Jikei program doubled its enrollment. That necessitated a split event, with CPTC’s MLT program typically hosting a fall group and the histology program hosting a spring group. The partnership of the two CPTC programs stems from the Japanese approach to educating those topics.
“The Japanese MLT students also study histology, so we have both programs participate here,” Chartraw said. “Both our MLT and histology students discover how the labs in each country do the same thing in different ways.”
The format for each trip follows a similar pattern. Students spend the first day meeting on campus, doing lab trainings and taking a campus tour. The second day features a tour of two off-site labs, with last week’s group visiting Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Washington State Department of Health State Public Health Laboratories. The final day includes student lectures back on campus, a big group luncheon and a cultural exchange.
“Usually students from both schools will prepare some sort of activity based on their culture,” Chartraw said of the cultural exchange piece. “That’s the time they exchange the cultural experiences and do demonstrations to work through the language barrier.”
Each tour provides one-of-a-kind experiences for both the Osaka Jikei and CPTC students.
“This provides our students great direct cultural experiences,” Chartraw said. “Once they graduate from their programs, they go into a global workforce. I think employers look for employees who are cross-culturally competent and leaders who have a global perspective.”
Chartraw mentioned that some CPTC students are hesitant going into the three-day event, but they end up excited and thankful for the cross-cultural opportunity.
“The feedback from our students is very positive,” Chartraw said. “In the beginning, they don’t know what to expect and they have to give up some clinical time, but after the experience they talk about how much they enjoy it. They learn how to communicate despite language barriers and find there are more similarities between the two countries than they expect.”
The partnership between the two colleges is set to continue, with a spring visit from a group of Osaka Jikei students scheduled for the third week of May.
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