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Becoming familiar with a new community can be difficult even if the city is just a few miles away. Now imagine if the new community is more than 6,000 miles from home.

In 2008, Ball State students and faculty worked with citizens of Greensburg, a city of about 10,500 people in southeastern Indiana, to help the community welcome some new residents from Japan. With the opening of a new Honda automobile plant in the area, community leaders wanted to ensure that the Japanese employees and their families could easily integrate into the community. In turn, they wanted to help current Greensburg residents learn about Japanese customs and traditions.

“The idea was to make some useful materials for Greensburg residents to learn about the Japanese culture and to learn the language, and also for the newcomers—Japanese workers—to learn something about Indiana,” says Sadatoshi Tomizawa, professor of Japanese.

Tomizawa along with Maria Williams-Hawkins, associate professor of telecommunications, and students from the Departments of Modern Languages and Classics and Telecommunications traveled to Greensburg to meet with the community leaders. Based on their input, the students produced a booklet with Japanese-English language skits and information about the cultural and communication differences between Japanese and American people, and they filmed and edited the skits into a DVD. They also worked with the local elementary schools to raise awareness about Japanese customs and culture and hosted festivals to celebrate Japanese foods, dancing, and martial arts.

Thanks to the Ball State students, the new and current community members can better understand and communicate with one another, creating a bridge between the two cultures.

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College of Communications, Information, and Media

College of Science and Humanities

Department of Modern Languages and Classics

Department of Telecommunications

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