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DSU’s Japan Outreach Initiative Begins 2nd Year

DSU’s Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator Mizuki Umebara (left) works with a student and another coordinator during recent training in Houston.

CLEVELAND, Miss. — Mizuki Umebara, Delta State University’s Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) Coordinator, was selected by JOI to go to their annual summer training as a presenter for the new JOI Coordinators and Supervisors in Houston, Texas, earlier this month. She spent several days with the Year 21 JOI coordinators and supervisors. She was the only coordinator from her Year 20 cohort to be invited to attend the training in-person.

Japan Outreach Initiative is a program that brings volunteer Japanese coordinators for two years to regions of the United States where Japanese culture has been less accessible. Umebara is starting her second year of JOI programming, which will include the Japanese Language Club and the upcoming Japan Festival in the Mississippi Delta to be held on campus in October.

Umebara said, “The main purpose of this training was to give an introduction about the program, to gain a basic skill to do cultural presentations/activities, and to know what they are expected to do in their two-year term. It was an honor to be invited there to share my experiences at DSU as a coordinator.”

Umebara said that her role in the training included giving demonstration presentations, sharing insights, and connecting with new coordinators outside of the sessions. “On August 2, we all visited Consulate General of Japan in Houston and greeted the Consul-General of Japan,” she said.

For her second year at DSU, Umebara said that she would like to do more cultural activities and workshops in the community as well as on campus. She said, “For the fall, I will be at ‘Free Family Day Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage’ at the GRAMMY Museum on Sep 10 for hand crafting, and I will start my Japanese language classes to the public, which had a good number of participants last semester.”

Umebara will also hold a multi-day event “Japan Festival in the Mississippi Delta” from October 4 to 8. There will be Japanese film screenings, presentations, lectures, children’s games and activity tables, cultural exhibits and information tables. “All of this will be partially funded by the Japan Foundation and the Mississippi Humanities Council,” Umebara said. “I am so optimistic about the success of this event as this is the first Japan-themed festival in the Delta region, as far as we are aware of.”

Michelle Johansen, Assistant Coordinator of International Student Services, said, “Personally, I am not surprised Mizuki was selected to present in-person at the Japan Outreach Initiative training. She continues to be an amazing cultural ambassador. I am excited for all of the excellent programming Mikzuki has planned for the upcoming year. She has become integral to our campus community and the larger Delta region. Delta State is appreciative of the support of the Laurasian Institute and Japan Foundation New York for their support of Mizuki here in the Mississippi Delta.”

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