Okayama University


Okayama University Conducts Closing Ceremony for US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship Program Summer Online Course

August 18, 2021

Okayama University conducted the closing ceremony for the US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program Summer Online Course, an intensive Japanese language and culture training program held from June 15 to August 7. Thirty-two outstanding American undergraduate and graduate students participated in the course, which was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Okayama University faculty and staff involved in the program, other program personnel, and participating students all joined the closing ceremony via a video-conferencing platform.

Executive Director for Academic Affairs FUNAHASHI Hiroaki gave the opening speech, followed by a video message by Okayama University President MAKINO Hirofumi. “Harmony is the most precious asset, ” said President Makino, introducing a famous aphorism coined by Prince Shotoku in a seventeen-article constitution outlining spiritual aspirations. “Rather than falling out over a difference of opinions, I encourage all of you to embrace the aspect of Japanese culture that values harmony and to forge relationships built on open discussion, ” he continued, “I believe that the CLS program has given you the opportunity to communicate with various people, allowing you to cross borders and build harmony through discussion, and I hope that it will prove a fruitful experience. I have great expectations for your futures.”

Afterwards, 4 student representatives (one from each class) spoke about what they learned from the program and expressed their gratitude to everyone involved. Despite being held online, students appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Japanese language and culture through various virtual activities—including cultural activities highlighting the SDGs and interviews—and to form friendships through interactions with Okayama University students and language-exchange partners. The students reflected on positive memories from the eight-week program and presented a surprise video showcasing activities they enjoyed.

Then, instructors and language-exchange partners who participated in the program said a few words, followed by a message of gratitude by American Councils for International Education Officer Syejeong KIM. Finally, Senior Vice President and UNESCO Chairholder YOKOI Atsufumi closed the ceremony, officially bringing an end to the summer course.

● CLS program
The CLS program is a US Department of State initiative aimed at encouraging young Americans to become proficient in one of 15 languages, including Russian and Chinese, which have been recognized as critical to America’s national security and economic prosperity.
Domestic acceptance to the program began in 2010, and the program is run by the American Councils for International Education, a US non-profit organization specializing in international education and exchange.