Friday, June 29, 2007

American Fraternity Takes on Japanese Flavor

Japanese Students Embrace Fraternity Experience
West Virginia Wesleyan College (Campus News)

Making a successful transition from high school to college is often challenging for American students at colleges and universities. International students endure even greater obstacles such as learning a new language, new cultures, long lapses between family visits, and no high school friends to help ease the transition.

Three West Virginia Wesleyan students have overcome these transitional issues through an American social tradition-a college fraternity.

Hideomi Masuda, Daisuke Hosonuma, and Munemitsu Kubota found West Virginia Wesleyan through the Sakae Institute for Study Abroad. The three students are members of Theta Xi Fraternity and credit their fraternity experience as instrumental in both their academic and social success.

“When we arrived at Wesleyan, we had no family or friends,” said Masuda, who is pursuing an athletic training degree. “One of the senior members of the fraternity invited us to the house and everyone was so friendly. We joined the fraternity to have a family in America.”

“The fraternity brothers accepted me for who I am and have been extremely helpful,” added Kubota, a marketing major. “They have helped me develop meaningful friendships.”

“Our academic success has been one of the biggest benefits of our fraternity membership,” noted Masuda. “Our English speaking and reasoning skills have significantly improved and the members are quick to correct our mistakes, especially when we are in the kitchen.”

Fraternity president Mark Niewodowski says the international flavor has been a great bonus for Theta Xi. “The Japanese brothers in our fraternity bring not only cultural differences, but intangibles that help our chapter prosper.

“All have a grade point average above 3.0 and several are involved in athletics. By having these gentlemen as part of our fraternity, the American students expand their cultural horizons. The Japanese brothers are the hardest workers in the fraternity and they challenge us to succeed academically. If they can achieve with a language barrier, there really is no excuse for the rest of us.”

Masuda was recently awarded a scholarship from the fraternity’s national headquarters for his outstanding achievement. He also serves as a community assistant on the Wesleyan Housing and Residence Life staff and traveled to New Orleans this spring as part of the annual Alternative Spring Break.

In fact, it was his fraternity experience that influenced him to go help with hurricane relief efforts. “One of the brothers, George Rowley, is from Louisiana, and talking with him about the devastation influenced me to make this trip,” added Masuda.

All of the Japanese students believe their fraternity experience will keep them connected throughout their life to the College. “I know I will want to come back for Homecoming,” stated Hosonuma, who is also majoring in marketing at Wesleyan.

While the American students have embraced the international students with open arms, they have not warmed up to Japanese cuisine. “We sometimes cook Japanese food in the kitchen,” added Hosonuma. “We have found that our American brothers are not too crazy about fish.”

The trio will encourage other new Japanese students to pursue a fraternity experience. “In Japan, there is no fraternity or sorority system,” noted Kubota. “Tokyo is a very big city and it was hard adjusting to a small town. The fraternity has offered so many social activities that weekends here feel much more like a “little Tokyo.” Joining Theta Xi definitely has enhanced my American college experience.”