Monday, August 22, 2016

Japanese students head home after seminar ends

Wataru Hotta accepts his program certificate from Professor
Masahide Kaeriyama, left, Professor Dave Valentine and Donna Anger
 of UAF International Programs and Initiatives.

SNRE Professor Emeritus Glenn Juday asked a dozen students from Hokkaido University what they thought about Alaska and one of them said “big.”

The Japanese students left to return home late Wednesday night after nine days of lectures and tours at UAF as part of a natural resources seminar. With Miho Morimoto piloting a university van, the students visited Doyon Ltd., the Fort Knox Mine, Northland Wood, the Superior Pellets Fuels plant, Poker Flat, the Division of Forestry and Denali National Park, where they rode the bus into the Eielson Visitors Center and saw bears. They also learned about aurora research, musk ox, permafrost, fisheries, and fire and forest management. The group toured the Large Animal Research Station and the Fairbanks Experiment Farm and to hear about reindeer and other research.

The Hokkaido students and their professors visit the Chatanika dredge.
Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas spoke to the group during a good-bye event at the Georgeson Botanical Garden on Wednesday night. He talked about the importance of being more globally aware and the role foreign travels have in that.

“They shape our perspectives for the rest of our lives,” he said. Thomas also gave the visiting Hokkaido University faculty, Masahide Kaeriyama and Xiao Lan, a letter to convey to Hokkaido University President Keizo Yamaguchi marking the 30th anniversary of the signing of the cooperative agreement and thanking the faculty and staff for their leadership in making the seminar happen.

SNRE Director of Academic Programs David Valentine, who organized the tour with Morimoto, said he hoped they had learned something about natural resources in Alaska. “We hope this will encourage you to come back as an exchange student,” he said. Several research efforts and internships have been facilitated by the agreement between UAF and Hokkaido University, but this is the first time a student group has come to UAF just to study natural resources management.

Among other things, the students said they liked seeing bears and caribou in Denali. They also liked the university museum, aurora research and the wood pellet plant.

Moe Ota, who studies animals, said she really enjoyed seeing the caribou in Denali. “Caribou were larger than I thought,” she said.

Yumeho Nakekanishi, who also studies animals, said the livestock species in Japan are different and include chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle.

Alaska was a lot warmer than she thought it would be. “I have a lot of sweaters and mufflers and I didn’t really use them,” she said.

Engineering student Ren Nishakata said he was most interested in the aurora research and would like to return to go dog mushing.

During Wednesday’s event, Donna Anger, the director of UAF International Programs and Initiatives, also encouraged the students to return. She and Valentine handed the students certificates for their participation in the noncredit Alaska Natural Resources Sustainability Field Seminar.

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