On February 11, 2013 UCR and Riverside officials hosted representatives of the Japanese university to officially mark the establishment of the new UC Riverside Tohoku University Center, which will act as a funnel for Tohoku students wanting to study here. It also will assist UCR students who want to travel in the other direction.
Tohoku University is in Sendai, which has been a sister city to Riverside for more than 50 years. It is one of Japan’s largest universities with 10 separate colleges and nearly 20,000 students. UCR has slightly more than 21,000 students.
Officials said the new center will further strengthen the connection between the two cities, a relationship that escalated a notch two years ago when Riverside reached out in support following a large earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of the Sendai region.
The two universities began talking about expanding their cooperative program three years ago. And last year, the Japanese government awarded Tohoku University a $10 million grant to increase international study over the next five years. Tohoku will be sending its international study students exclusively to UCR.
“This is one of a kind,” said Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, director of International Education Programs for UCR Extension.
What makes it different, she said, is the effort to connect the exchange students’ projects beyond the campus, such as the ecological work at the El Sobrante Landfill.
“Both of us are going to work really hard to get the students into the community,” Jenkins-Deas said of the two universities.
Beyond the environmental projects, the current crop of students will be assigned to alternative energy and engineering work beyond the campus boundaries. Jenkins-Deas foresees assignments with city government, local schools and museums.
“I see at least 70 new projects that could come as a result of this,” she said. “Every time we contact someone, about five more ideas come out of things we can do in the future. It just builds, and it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Creating opportunities for students and the community through the relationships and collaborations with our international sister cities demonstrates Riverside’s commitment to intelligently growing the economy through inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches.