Topeka welcomes Japanese students

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The International Center of Topeka is sponsoring Japan: Land of the Cherry Blossom, an event to help in welcoming 21 international students who are visiting Washburn from Fukouka, Japan.

Each year, the ICT holds a different cultural event so that the Topeka community can have a chance to learn about a new culture. So far, they’ve recognized cultural places such as the Middle East, South Korea and Kenya.

“We decided to focus on Japan this year because after everything that had happened with the tsunami last year, we wanted to concentrate on a positive about it that would  also help educate students,” said Bassima Schbley the president of the ICT. “We also took advantage of being able to have the visiting Japanese students to help Washburn students learn more about Japan, while at the same time the Washburn students will teach them about culture here, so it‘s a win-win situation.”

The ICT hopes that students will keep an open mind not only towards Japan but also about the whole world as they continue to celebrate a new culture each year and work together to create an authentic event.

“The ICT board members, Washburn students, and the Topeka community have really pitched in to make this event successful,” said Phyllis Berry, a board member of the ICT. “Its really been a team effort. From funding money to making sure the trash is empty, everyone has just been very helpful.”

The event will include many different opportunities for the public to come and experience the culture of Japan. There will be different art displays made by students, an origami display presented by Sangyoub Park, authentic clothing and other items presented by Heidi Staerkel, Japanese archery and dance, and much more.

There will also be a tasting of different varieties of foods including sushi, noodles, fried rice, rice balls, green tea ice cream, and more. The opportunity to interact with the Japanese students and learn more about their culture is also available.

“Students can expect education in a fun way,” said Schbley. “We’re going to have a lot of hands-on activities for all ages and live entertainment, so it definitely won’t be boring.”

The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. It will be held at the United Methodist Church 1621 SW College Avenue. For questions, call International Programs at 785-670-1051.