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LaGuardia Community College Receives Commendation from the

Consul General of Japan for its Warm Ties with the Country and its Culture


Long Island City, NY—May25, 2014—On May 22, the Consul General of Japan in New York presented a commendation to LaGuardia Community College for establishing strong ties with his country and for building a rich Japanese studies program that is exposing its students to the country’s language and culture.


“LaGuardia, under the strong initiative taken by its president, Dr. Gail Mellow, and with the full support of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, has significantly contributed to the promotion of friendship between Japan and the U.S., as well as to the institutional enhancement of its Japanese programs, through the execution of a wide range of events and endeavors,” said Ambassador Sumio Kusaka when presenting Dr. Mellow with the commendation.


Upon receiving the award, Dr. Mellow said, “It is an honor to have the Ambassador Sumio Kusaka present LaGuardia with this most special commendation.  LaGuardia's connection to Japan has deepened in the last year. We offer a broad selection of Japanese culture and language classes, have welcomed visitors from Japan's government, higher education and business sector, and educate hundreds of students with roots in Japan.  Today’s event celebrates our powerful and growing friendship with our Japanese community.”


The commendation was presented at a formal ceremony held at the consul general’s residence. 


Over the past several years, LaGuardia has developed a strong, and ever expanding, Japanese academic and cultural program that is providing its students with a broad understanding of this fascinating Asian country.


In the academic arena, LaGuardia’s Japanese language program offers basic, intermediate and near-native level language courses that enroll 100 students each semester.  The Japan Foundation has helped the College to maintain and expand its Japanese language and culture course with a $38,441 grant.  Due to the growing popularity of the language courses, LaGuardia has established a Japanese studies major that will soon receive official approval from the State.


On the cultural front, LaGuardia has hosted a panoply of special events.  Soh Daiko, the first established taiko drumming group on the East Coast, gave a performance that combined explosion percussion with dynamic choreography.  Mr. Hiroki Ohara, one of the youngest Japanese grandmasters in ikebana, “the Japanese art of flower arrangement, demonstrated this exquisite art form.  The ancient form of Japanese storytelling, rakugo, was performed by Mr. Katsura Sunshine.  Also hosted were workshops by Mr. Shu Kubo, a paper-cut artist, who visited New York on one of his government-funded tours; and Mr. Shuhei Hasado, one of Japan’s finest plaster craftsman, who was appointed as a Japan cultural envoy by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.  


To further enrich the students’ understanding of its culture, last summer the Japanese government invited nine LaGuardia students to take part in an all-expense paid, 10-day study tour of Japan.  During the whirlwind tour, known as “Cool Japan,” the LaGuardia and 37 students from other CUNY colleges were immersed in the Japanese culture, sampling the country’s fine cuisine, visiting ancient temples and modern structures and learning about its art and traditional and pop culture.


The students who participated in the tour and those involved in the Japanese program got a rare treat when Madame Akie Abe, wife of the Prime Minister of Japan, paid a special visit to the College last September.  There she observed a Japanese language class and spoke with the students who participated in “Cool Japan.”


When the devastating tsunami and earthquake shook Japan in 2011, the Japan club organized a three-day fundraiser and hosted a charity art exhibition to help in the relief efforts.  The following year, as a symbol of their friendship, the Japanese Consulate General presented the college with a gift of two cherry trees during the 100th anniversary celebration of the planting of Japan’s cherry blossom trees in New York.

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.