Practical Learning at TUJ Brings Students Closer to Their Dreams

Emika Mamiya is a senior in Communication Studies who transferred to TUJ in summer 2014. That fall, as part of the Sophomore Seminar course with Professor Ron Carr, she started planning Dream Port Japan, a consulting firm devoted to study abroad programs. Her goal was to create a way to help students with a desire to study overseas learn about real study abroad experiences.

Contributing to Japan’s internationalization

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has launched the “Tobitate!” Study Abroad campaign, aiming to send 120,000 Japanese students a year abroad by 2020. (Current totals are 60,000 a year.) Mamiya wondered how she could contribute to this campaign. Utilizing the course project as an opportunity, Mamiya proposed the creation of Dream Port Japan as a means of providing counseling and information to prospective study abroad students. Mamiya obtained the support of three classmates and they drafted a business plan. The team conducted interviews and surveyed students from Mamiya’s alma mater in order to gauge attitudes about studying abroad, determining that there was a real need for the service they were considering.

Mamiya (far left) and her classmates or project members
Mamiya (far left) and her classmates or project members

The biggest draw of the project—information based on “real” voices

Dream Port Japan’s strength is that all of the project’s members have studied abroad before—in the U.S., England, and Singapore. They could provide real-world information to prospective students poised to go overseas based on their experience. Dream Port Japan can offer individualized consulting to high school graduates concerning entrance exams like the SAT and IELTS, application procedures to universities, obtaining a visa, traveling abroad, and adapting to life overseas.

Mamiya is enthusiastic about supporting the government’s project by providing a “living database” of past study abroad students.

Associate Professor Ronald Carr, says, “The course uses a seminar format to analyze case studies and learn about entrepreneurship and crisis management, giving students the ability to solve real-world problems. They form groups of three to four students, create a business plan, and present it at the end of the semester. The business plans have been wide ranging – one project involved creating a hiking map through Chiba as a way to promote tourism to Japan after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.” Carr is enthusiastic about Mamiya and her peers’ project, saying, “They have zeroed in on an excellent niche market. If they take the right approach, they will be more than able to go toe-to-toe with existing businesses.”

In fall semester 2015, starting on August 31, Mamiya plans to continue preparing for the launch of Dream Port Japan through her Independent Study.

Her final goal is to launch a startup venture. She is planning on researching the industry and visiting public high schools to gain a more fine-grained understanding of study abroad today. She wants to use these research results to assess the viability of her business idea.

“My dream 10 years from now is to own an organic and fair-trade café.”

Mamiya says that going overseas gave her a deep interest in Japan’s internationalization and global business. After graduating from high school in Tokyo, Mamiya went to the U.S. by herself, where she studied English for two months at a language school before enrolling at a community college in California, and later at a four-year university. She then returned to Japan and worked for a year in the apparel sector, but “ran into a lot of walls. I found myself clashing with people from different backgrounds.” Some of her friends from California reminded her of the importance of completing her degree and encouraged her to continue her studies. She transferred to TUJ, which allows students to complete a U.S. university degree in Japan. Mamiya entered last May with a scholarship.

(from left) Emika Mamiya and Nancy Laue; (back right) Priscilla Koike; (front right) Yokaze Ito
(from left) Emika Mamiya and Nancy Laue; (back right) Priscilla Koike; (front right) Yokaze Ito

Mamiya’s long-term goal is to own an organic and fair-trade café. “I want to do something local, providing something that is only available at that location. The ideal outcome would be to act as a business owner and create a system to open branches in the U.S., Asia and elsewhere, using the particularities of the local regions beneficial to all parties involved.” Mamiya hopes to enter a foreign firm in Japan after graduating from TUJ. She envisions being dispatched overseas after five years, building an overseas network and learning the practical aspects of an international business as she aims to become a global entrepreneur.

Mamiya’s eyes sparkle as she says, “The defining feature of TUJ is the practical, hands-on curriculum. The small class sizes mean you work closely with instructors, and they introduce you to their business network. The career counseling is also robust.” For the 2015 spring semester, Mamiya interned at the social media and digital marketing firm Bluedelphia, where she learned the ropes of online business. Mamiya met founder Timothy Schepis, a Temple graduate, at the “Life After TUJ” event on campus. Mamiya is experiencing the advantages of a U.S.-style, international education: “I learned ‘how to think’ in college in the U.S. The thought process of looking at things objectively and seeking out proof and a basis for one’s arguments is something that is of use in life in general.” Mamiya is also considering making use of a network with her Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong friends she met while in the U.S. and at TUJ. “We Asians share common values.” Mamiya is currently studying Chinese and taking a short study abroad program in Shanghai this month.

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