In 2011, a team of students and faculty from Kadan Automotive Technical College, Sendai, Japan, visited Honolulu Community College in hopes of entering into an educational exchange between the two schools in the area of Automotive Technology.

A few days after this exchange was established, the college and  the rest of the world witnessed the horrific events of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region. Two of the Kadan students, who were still in Hawaii during the tragedy, lost their families and homes. Upon their return to Sendai, Kadan took full responsibility of the two students.

The tragic devastation brought students and faculty from both programs together, strengthening the partnership between the two schools and the personal relationships between the students and the region. Since then, Kadan has sent students and instructors to Honolulu CC for an international educational experience every year.

Flourishing Partnership

Thanks to the generosity of Honda International and Hawaiian Airlines, this partnership is flourishing and this year, Honolulu CC was able to send Dean Keala Chock, automotive instructor Warren Takata and two students to Sendai to learn at the Kadan facility.

“Through these study abroad opportunities students from both schools benefit. They learn about other cultures and each country’s approach to learning automotive technology as well as the equipment, and facility they train at.”

– Warren Takata

EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE

L to R Warren Takata, Gerald Acosta, Kieran Yamamoto, Keala Chock at the Hawaiian Airlines check-in in Sendai.

Q&A with Honolulu CC automotive student Gerald Acosta

What were your expectations of this trip?

I didn’t really have any expectations going into this trip. I tried to keep an open mind because I honestly didn’t know what to expect, I was just excited to get this opportunity to learn about Japan and the way they do automotive.

What was your experience at Kadan?

Going to Kadan and working with the students and teachers was challenging, but once I got past the language barrier it was amazing to learn from them. Even though I was only there for a few days I saw myself learning a lot from the students and teachers. The school campus was amazing due to the fact that they had their own driving course. My experience at Kadan truly opened my eyes to how automotive could be anything you really want it to be.

How was your experience in Japan?

This was my first time to Japan so I was really excited to experience a completely different culture. The language barrier was a challenge but I had my translator app on my phone, which helped me get through the individual conversations I had. Japan, especially Sendai is an amazing place with a lot of truly genuine and nice people, even to foreigners. That’s the one aspect I liked about Japan, everyone was nice to us. The food was pretty amazing too! I’ve never eaten so many different types of foods in such a short span of time and majority of it being really good.

How did you feel visiting Ishinomaki?

Having a chance to visit Ishinomaki was an amazing, eye opening experience. It’s one thing to see something on television and feel for those families, but to be able to visit actual locations and hear people’s stories about the impact of the tsunami was difficult. Going to the long-term shelter blew my mind and really helped me understand what these people went through and are still going through.

I really hope and pray that those families will be able to overcome their struggles and be able to start over like some families already have done.

How do you plan to use this experience?

Going to Ishinomaki really encouraged me to keep going and use my two degrees to get youth/young adults off the street. I currently already have a BA in Educational Ministry and a double Minor in Youth Ministry & Music. Once I’m finished with my AA degree in Automotive Tech, I plan to eventually open up an Automotive Youth Shop. I want to combine these two degrees to get youth/young adults off the streets and get into the shop where they can learn a resourceful skill to keep them off the streets.

Q&A with Honolulu CC automotive student Kieran Yamamoto

What were your expectations of this trip?

I wanted to see the differences of culture, work habits particularly in automotive field, teaching styles and school curriculum.

What was your experience at Kadan?

The students and teachers were very well mannered. The school was in impeccable shape and very clean. Class time was extremely efficient and much new knowledge was gained. I was able to see the differences in teaching styles and methods taught in class.

How was your experience in Japan? (Culture)

Experiencing Japan was wonderful. It is such as vibrant and beautiful country both in the city and rural areas. The people are all very polite and helpful.

How did you feel visiting Ishinomaki?

Seeing the long-term shelters where people have lived ever since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan was an eye opening experience. Hearing their stories about the disaster and how they are still in community shelters four years after the fact with no housing options in the near future is both saddening and inspiring. Even though everyone in Ishinomaki has faced massive loss from the disaster and many are still without homes everyone is still seeing the best out of their situation and persevering on rebuilding their lives.

How do you plan to use this experience?

I plan to share my experiences with everyone that I can. I will take what I have learned from Kadan Technical College to strengthen myself and become a better student and automotive technician. Seeing the strength, perseverance and overall good spirit of the people I met in Ishinomaki inspires me to make myself a better person.

Photo Gallery

Kadan and Honolulu CC Automotive students

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