Eckerd celebrates 50 year friendship with Japanese town

December 15, 2016

The alumni of Takamatsu Daiichi High School fondly recalled their English teachers. For 50 years, Eckerd College has sent a graduate to Takamatsu, Japan for a one-year, post college teaching assignment.

Eckerd graduate Haley Ramirez poses with her English language students at Takamatsu Daiichi High in June.

Eckerd graduate Haley Ramirez (front row, far right) poses with her English language students at Takamatsu Daiichi High in June.

“I had a senior citizen telling me he remembered his teacher,” said Eileen Mikals-Adachi, a professor of Japanese language at Eckerd who led a student trip to Japan in spring. “This demonstrates how important cross cultural relations and globalization are important to both Eckerd College and the city of Takamatsu.”

Takamatsu, a coastal community on the island of Shikoku, is a sister city to St. Petersburg. Eckerd College forged a relationship with the local government 50 years ago and has been sending students to teach English there ever since. In May, the Eckerd College Board of Trustees signed a resolution honoring the anniversary of the arrangement.

Mikals-Adachi made her fifth trip to the city with four current Eckerd students and Environmental Studies Professor Jesse Sherry to deliver the resolution to the Takamatsu Deputy Mayor on May 31.

Rodney Marsella ‘19, a marine science and international studies student from Rutherford, N.J., said the city was “lovely, and easy to get around in.”

“We were received very enthusiastically in Takamatsu,” Marsella said. “The school met every need, and did a good job of providing plenty of fun cultural activities for us in our free time. Everyone, from government officials, to professors, to students, to regular citizens were friendly and open.”

After spending a week in Takamatsu, Mikals-Adachi, Sherry and the students moved on to Tokyo to complete a Luce Foundation funded project on Japan and the environment.

Marsella said the group spent three weeks acquiring knowledge that “simply doesn’t exist in English.”

“We mainly focused on a number of small projects such as ocean floor cleaning, and seagrass disposal,” Masella said. “A majority of the science came from a historic standpoint as well learning the projects that had been done in the Sato Inland Sea over the years, and the toll pollution had in the lives of the inhabitants. It was extremely informative.”

Students Masella, Grant Clay, Nicole Cronen and Kate Seader helped Japanese students practice their English while getting in a little Japanese practice themselves. Marsella said there is a difference when you are traveling with Eckerd.

“Since coming to Eckerd, every event that I have done through the school involving Japan has been well planned, informative and extremely entertaining,” he explained. “Without the staff on both sides of the Pacific, and the friendship between Eckerd and Kagawa University, I doubt that this summer would have been the same.”

Eckerd College’s 50th graduate English teacher, Janelle Wilson ‘16, started her yearlong term in Takamatsu on Sept. 1.