(January 30, 2015)

Exhibit highlights history of Japanese exchange students

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College of Louisiana Archives and Special Collections presents the exhibit We Are From Japan, 1951-1959 online and in the Whited Room lobby of Bynum Commons from now until May 2015. This special project highlights the history of several Japanese students enrolled at Centenary College of Louisiana during the 50s.

This photograph depicts Fukuda and Sekiya registering for classes during the fall 1951 semester in what is now the Fitness Center

"Centenary's connection to Japan during the 1950s can be traced to the college's president, Joe J. Mickle," said Archivist Chris Brown '01. "Before coming to Centenary in 1945, Mickle lived in Japan from 1921 to 1941. While there, he worked at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe. Mickle's relationships with people working in Japanese higher education resulted in students from that country enrolling at Centenary. Another significant factor in these students' enrolling in American colleges and universities was a scholarship program offered by the Interchange of Persons Program of the Department of the Army for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers."

The exhibit includes several vignettes of Japanese students' Centenary experiences through photographs, correspondence, audio recordings, and newspaper articles. Stories range from two Japanese students extending their Centenary stay to two years, a student marrying a classmate after returning home to Japan, correspondence between a co-ed and Mickle, and glimpses of student engagement among the visiting scholars. The exhibit also illustrates Mickle's sensitivity during a tumultuous time in the history of U. S. and Japanese relations.

"We read in a correspondence between Mickle and a Japanese college president that Mickle 'hoped to build a greater relationship between the two nations,'" said Archives student worker and History and Music double major Trey Davis '17. "In class we learn how sad and awful World War II was, but when you look at the things that Centenary was doing, building partnerships with schools in Japan, it gives you a glimmer of hope."

This exhibition was researched and prepared by Brown, Davis, and student worker Kayla Ruth '15. It features material from the Centenary College of Louisiana Archives and Special Collections. The content is also accessible online.

The mission of the Centenary College Archives and Special Collections is to collect, preserve, and make available the historic records of the College and the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. For more information, contact Chris Brown at 318.869.5462 or email.