Japan Expo – UNG Gives a Glance into The Culture of Japan


Origami by JCC students

On Tuesday, April 4, the University of North Georgia welcomed students, faculty and staff to the Cottrell Business Center to enjoy an afternoon exploring the culture of Japan. The Japan Expo consisted of an industry panel from Japanese companies with corporate connections in Georgia, a tea ceremony, a koto instrumental performance, along with Japanese refreshments and activities.

Japanese Treats and Kendama games

The industry panel featured guest speakers Scott Craig, corporate senior manager of JTEKT, Larry Peck, president of Makita, Jessica Kennett Cork, vice president of community engagement and corporate communications of YKK along with Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of the college of arts and letters at UNG.

Students who are studying Japanese or are a part of the Japan Club at UNG helped volunteer with leading origami demonstrations, showing how to play Kendama, along with passing out various Japanese treats to those in attendance.

Dr. Robin O’Day, associate professor of anthropology, helped organize the event and was hopeful for UNG students to enjoy a glimpse into what Japan has to offer and the opportunities that are found here in Georgia. O’Day said that the expo gave students the chance to learn more about Japan and gave them the opportunity to network with major companies that could lead to a career for those who are studying Japanese or who are looking to go on a study abroad trip. “The Japan Expo is an opportunity for our students to connect with Japan here in Georgia. Not many students realize how present Japan is here and we want to educate them on that,” said O’Day.

Traditional Japanese tea ceremony with students

Sarai Deras, senior East Asian studies major attended the expo and was excited to experience the Japan culture. Deras said she was volunteering because she is a part of the Japan Club and her major is a concentration in Japanese studies. She, like many others, was most excited for the industry panel because she wanted to learn more about opportunities that are ahead of her once she graduates. “I kind of stumbled into this major. I was an education major and I was required to take a foreign language and chose Japanese and decided I enjoyed it and here I am,” said Deras. “I just hope people can get a better understanding of what makes Japan, Japan.”

Cassandra Tsou, junior digital arts major, Japanese minor and founder and president of the Japanese Cultural Club said, “There’s so many cool events taking place today and I’m excited to learn about the companies and watch the tea ceremony.”

Autumn Cleymans, freshman East Asian studies major and reservation designee of the JCC said, “I’m studying abroad and know that more students who are studying abroad are also attending so this is a glimpse into what we are going to experience.”

Leslie Maldanado, junior cyber security major, Japanese minor and vice president of the JCC, said, “I’m excited for the student involvement today, we tried to get as many involved so that we could reach a bigger audience.”

Koto demonstration
Students looking at Japanese treats and Kendama game