Okayama University


Online Closing Ceremony for the U.S. Department of State Autumn Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program

November 25, 2020

On November 21, Okayama University held an online closing ceremony for the U.S. Department of State Autumn Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, which took place from October 6 to November 21. CLS is an intensive study program focusing on Japanese language and culture sponsored by the US Department of State. This year, 13 undergraduate and graduate students from all over the United States took part.

The closing ceremony was livestreamed using video conferencing software. Okayama University President MAKINO Hirofumi opened the ceremony by praising the students’ efforts and achievements over the last several weeks, likening their experience to the Zen proverb, “A single flower blooms and throughout the world it is spring.” He elaborated by saying, “This year we have all been affected in some way by the global pandemic, and many of us have had to overcome unexpected struggles; however, I hope that the opportunity to collaborate with classmates in this intensive online study program has broadened your mindset and allowed you to see things from a different perspective. I am sure that in the near future, this unique experience will bear fruit in each of your lives.” After the president’s opening remarks, two student representatives spoke about what they learned during the program and expressed their heartfelt gratitude toward everyone involved. After university faculty and course affiliates gave their remarks, a commemorative video showing the various activities completed over the 7-week program was streamed.

KIM Syejeong, CLS Japan Program Officer at the American Councils for International Education, also thanked everyone who contributed to making the program a success. Finally, YOKOI Atsufumi, Vice President for Global Engagement Strategy and the Okayama University UNESCO Chairholder, made the closing remarks, officially bringing the 7-week program to an end.

The CLS online program not only consisted of online language classes but also gave CLS students the opportunity pair up with language exchange partners from Okayama University. Additionally, live sessions simulating off-campus activities were offered based on the themes of sustainable development and cultural exchange. Activities included a virtual tour of the Faculty of Environmental Science and Technology’s conservation area, an introduction to Yakage Town, and an interactive session with students from Yakage High School.