Ohio Wesleyan University Renews Agreement with College in Japan

Exchange agreement with Kwassui Women’s College evolved from long-standing relationship

Ohio Wesleyan faculty and administrators met on August 25 with representatives from Kwassui Women’s College to renew the long-standing student exchange agreement between the two institutions. Shown left to right: Darrell Albon, Director of International and Off-Campus Programs; Professor Barbara Easton, a missionary who teaches at Kwassui; Kwassui Chancellor Noboru Nonomura; and OWU President Rock Jones. Photo by John Holliger.

The Chancellor from Kwassui Women’s College in Nagasaki, Japan visited Ohio Wesleyan University on August 25 to renew the student exchange agreement held between the schools since 2000. But the bonds between OWU and Kwassui actually date back to the late 1800’s.

OWU President Rock Jones signed the exchange renewal agreement during a meeting on August 25 with Kwassui Chancellor Noboru Nonomura and Professor Barbara Easton, a missionary who teaches at Kwassui. “We are reclaiming a relationship that dates back to the 19th century,” Jones said. “We celebrate our partnership and ongoing friendship, and look forward to the academic student and faculty exchange. Ohio Wesleyan is committed to developing global educational opportunities for our students.”

Ohio Wesleyan students and Assistant Professor of Humanities-Classics Anne Sokolsky will visit Kwassui Women’s College during a trip to Japan and Hawaii in May 2011, as part of a Sagan Fellows course “War Stories: The Depiction of the Pacific War in Literature, Film, and Culture.” This course will examine how the story of the Pacific War changes as it is told by different people, organization, and media. The course will cross boundaries of race, gender, class, time, and genre, and also include related discussion on the 9-11 U.S. attacks and on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Carol Holliger, archivist for the Archives of Ohio United Methodism provided materials that included documentation of the long-standing relationship between the two institutions.

  • Kwassui College was founded by American Methodist Episcopal missionary Elizabeth Russell in 1879, when predominant Japanese culture considered women’s education unimportant.
  • When Russell stepped down as director of Kwassui in 1900, the new director was Mariana Young, OWU Class of 1893. Young was recommended to Russell by OWU’s President, Bishop James Bashford.
  • When Young became Kwassui’s director, Kwassui adopted the melody of OWU’s alma mater.
  • Russell adopted a Japanese daughter, Mae Ellen (also known as Ellen Mae), and later sent her to live with her sister Julia Chapman, who lived in Delaware. Mae Ellen graduated from Delaware City Schools and from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1910.  Julia Chapman lived at 86 Rowland Ave.—in what is now the OWU Modern Foreign Language House.
  • Mae Ellen and Elizabeth Russell returned to Delaware for the final years of their lives. Both are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.

Read more about the Kwassui Women’s College International Student Exchange Center.

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