Visit by Japanese Friends

April 14, 2016

Yamagata Closing Ceremony

The Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University (CSU OT) recently hosted visitors from Yamagata Prefectural University of Health Sciences (YPUHS), our sister school in Yamagata, Japan. The Head of the OT Department at YPUHS, two faculty members and 13 students had the opportunity to engage in a number of academic and leisure activities alongside faculty, staff and students from CSU OT during their visit March 21-23.

Classroom and lab activities provided hands-on experiences for our Japanese visitors throughout the week. During an occupational performance class, students enjoyed participating in an adult feeding lab and learning about dysphagia. Ethnography was the course topic in the research to practice class in which the Japanese students went out in small groups to local community businesses so that they could observe and note any differences in behavior between people in Fort Collins and behaviors they were accustomed to seeing in Japan. While visiting the Assistive Technology Resource Center students participated in a workshop on assistive technology for smart phone apps. Another lab experience involved them in a simulation of some symptoms associated with dementia.

In typical Colorado spring fashion a snow storm disrupted a scheduled day of visitations to rehabilitation sites; however, this did not stop faculty and students from enjoying activities right here in the city of Fort Collins. As the Japanese students were hosted by CSU OT students, the day included cooking meals native to the culture, building snow men, learning Japanese hobbies such as origami, and exploring various tourist destinations in Fort Collins.

Andrew Flint, first-year CSU OT student and host for some of the YPUHS students stated, "I think this partnership and the experience of hosting and interacting with the Japanese students exposed me to how their culture values gratitude, humility, and respect. These values are apparent both in the way they present themselves as well as in the way OT in Japan provides care for elderly patients with dementia in a very nurturing and respectful manner."

At the end of the week a closing ceremony was held in which our YPUHS visitors performed the traditional Japanese Hat Dance and then invited us to join in with them. The Japanese students shared about their culture including how to use chop sticks and the popularity of karaoke in Yamagata. After the ceremony several of the CSU OT and Japanese students enjoyed participating in a karaoke night in which Flint added, "One of my highlights was watching all 13 Japanese students up on stage at karaoke singing 'We Will Rock You' by Queen."

The partnership between these two schools has been ongoing since its establishment in 2002 thanks to the participation of many faculty, staff and students. More information regarding this partnership is available on the OT Department page.

Contact:  Linda McDowell

Telephone:  970-491-6243