When Mukogawa Women’s University (MWU) established a U.S. branch campus in 1990, it envisioned educating students to foster a keen international perspective and become capable global citizens. As Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute (MFWI) celebrates its 20th anniversary, we can look back and see how a vision fostered twenty years ago has come to fruition. MFWI has become both the conduit and core of MWU’s multicultural education. A total of 9123 students have completed studies in the MFWI programs. These students have gained knowledge of English language and American culture through small, personalized classes and authentic learning experiences given by dedicated teachers. These experiences include school exchanges, homestays with local families, and living in dormitories with American resident assistants.
While our students are learning about American culture, reciprocally, I hope that the community of Spokane has been enriched by the exchange with our students and from the many cultural programs offered by our Japanese Cultural Center. Every semester students participate in volunteer opportunities in schools and at festivals to promote Japanese culture and mutual understanding.
From its initial, basic program, MFWI has expanded its offerings to include an advanced Extension Program for returning English language majors as well as a specialized program for Education majors. Two years ago, a summer program was created for university Food Science majors, which includes observations at area hospitals and long term care facilities and exchanges with classes at Washington State University. Also, former Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute students have taken advantage of new exchange and dual-degree programs between MWU and Eastern Washington University.
Since 1990, the need for citizens and workers with a global understanding has increased dramatically and promoting excellent international education for MWU students is more important than ever. In 2010, MFWI was accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation. This commission is a national accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions in the United States and abroad and is recognized as having the highest standards by both universities and the U.S. Secretary of Education. It is an achievement that caps twenty years of excellence in international education at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute.