The November sunshine spilled onto Ragsdale Plaza and the brightly colored gifts at the Global Marketplace, where craftspeople and fair-trade vendors of goods from other countries displayed their wares. It was the kickoff event for International Education Week: a celebration of cultural exchange, the global student population at St. Edward’s, and the opportunities for U.S. students to go abroad.
At a table near the marketplace, Celestina Macareno ’18 and her friends chatted about those opportunities — the trip Macareno had taken, and the one her friends would take in the spring. Two years ago, Macareno had fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to Japan by studying for three months at Asia Pacific University in Beppu. Her friends Matthew San Martin ’20 and Jacob San Martin ’18 are headed to Beppu next semester.
At APU, one of St. Edward’s sister campuses, Macareno had focused on learning Japanese and studying Management. As an Interactive Games Studies major, she knew studying Japanese language and culture would be beneficial to her future career. “Video games are big in Japan, and I’ll probably be doing business with people from Japan,” she says.
Cross-cultural differences were the focus of the Management course Macareno took at APU, and when the American and Japanese students worked together in groups, those cultural differences quickly came into view. The Americans were accustomed to expressing their opinions and advocating for the solution they thought was best, while the Japanese students were reluctant to challenge authority or argue.
Macareno says she still talks to some of those Japanese students. “Some of them say they wish their culture was more like American society — they have ideas for improving things, but they can’t speak up.” On the other hand, she says, Americans could adopt patience and decorum from the Japanese. “In that class, I think we all learned about things we wanted to change in our society,” she says.