A Japanese student poses with Jon while making origami.

A Japanese student poses with Jon while making origami.

Once each semester, students from the University of Missouri’s (MU) Office of Asian Affairs visit ACT’s Day Program.

The Office of Asian Affairs offers programs of varying lengths for Asian college students. They take classes in business, leadership and English. All of the programs are taught by Office of Asian Affairs staff.

Students are immersed in American culture while they are here. They travel to area cities such as Jefferson City and Saint Louis and act as ambassadors for their countries. They share their cultural traditions at elementary schools, assisted living facilities, and ACT.

Asian Affairs Instructor Melody Kleinsorge, who lived in Japan for two years, says, “The students really enjoy coming to ACT. Many of them mention their experience here in their graduation speeches.”

A student teaching Brian how to use chopsticks.

A student teaching Brian how to use chopsticks.

In March, participants in the Day Program enjoyed learning about the Japanese language, using chopsticks, fashion, and the art of origami from a group of Japanese students that came to share cultural information about their homeland.

Day Program Activities Coordinator Kristin Cummins expands on the learning experience by doing activities during the week that are related to the MU students’ country of origin.

The week’s activities also provides information that allows Day Program participants to dig deeper into the culture and history of the featured country.

Day Program DSP ?? modeling a kimono.

Day Program DSP Simone Tillman modeling a kimono.

While learning about Asian countries, individuals have practiced weaving (Philippines). When the focus was on Bhutan, they learned about archery (using paperclips and rubber bands) and a game called Degor (similar to horseshoes). Day Program participants decorated a rickshaw when they are talked about Bangladesh.

“This relationship between ACT and MU is wonderful and mutually beneficial,” says Day Program Director, Cindy Burlison. “It is a valuable learning experience for individuals in the Day Program. An added benefit is the Asian Affairs students learn about disability services in the U.S., which are often non-existent in their own country.”