Japanese Program finds niche at Marshall

As the old saying goes, “A house without books is like a room without windows.” This saying stands true for Marshall University’s Japanese department. A window of transparency, the Japanese program provides light on Marshall’s campus.

The program is young in age but mighty in spirit. Established nine years ago, the Japanese program is now home to over 40 students. The program not only provides education and insight to its students but also serves as a bridge connecting West Virginian communities with the Japanese culture.

Friends, business partners, colleagues and students gathered on the third floor atrium of Drinko Library yesterday to celebrate and honor cherished relationships. Drinking coffee and eating chocolate covered strawberries, a new discovery to some Japanese students, peers and professors reveled in awe of the growing Japanese book collection for the library. Maybe one or two Japanese books could be found on the library shelves just six years ago. Five years ago, however, the first donation of $1,000 worth of books and reading materials was made to the library by Nippon Tungsten Co., LTD. New to the area, Nippon Tungsten established a place of business in Barboursville, West Virginia in 2010. One year later, the company pledged to donate $1,000 of Japanese books annually to the library for five years. Yesterday at the fifth year celebration of the Nippon Tungsten donation, the company pledged to renew their donation for five more years.

The growing book collection at the library represents the growing interest for Japanese education in the Huntington area. Cabell County Superintendent William Smith works with the Japanese department to push for Japanese to be taught as a foreign language in schools within the county. Businesses such as Nippon Tungsten, USA are thriving in the local area. President of Nippon Tungsten, USA Ryuichi Sakamoto said “I have a recommendation for all the students—stay here in Huntington.”

Faculty of the department of modern languages all agree on one thing—the program continues to grow because of partnerships and support such as the annual book donation from Nippon Tungsten. Associate professor of Japanese Natsuki Fukunaga Anderson said during the ceremony yesterday, “We need to celebrate any type of support we get.”

Caroline Perkins, chair of modern languages and Larry Sheret, library liaison to modern languages, looked at the large display of books with smiles on their faces. “When the Japanese program started, there was no library support,” Perkins said.

In addition to the pride the faculty from the department of modern languages has for the books, the students also share the same excitement. “The continuous donation of books has helped the program grow and make it more accessible for learning,” said junior geography and Japanese double major Kara Scott

“A house without books is like a room without windows”—the Japanese department provides a window for the university that encourages everyone to look in.

Upcoming events within the department include the Koto Music Recital in Smith Hall on Saturday, March 15 at 4 p.m.

Elayna Conard can be contacted at [email protected].