North Central College - Naperville, IL

Snapshots in Time: Global Influences at North Central College

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North Central College 150 Years. A Promising Start.
North Central College 150 Years. A Promising Start.

Throughout the Sesquicentennial Celebration, there have been efforts to focus on certain aspects of the College’s history. One of the Sesquicentennial Committee’s goals was to encourage the organization of  events to spotlight some of these important stories, such as the College’s international connections, its  relationship with Japanese students and the development of the Japanese program. During Homecoming 2011, a reunion was held of alumni from Japan and those who studied in Japan.

Here are a few excerpts from the College’s history book, “North Central College 150 Years. A Promising Start.”


“North-Western College’s ties with Japan date back to the 1870s. The College developed these ties by supporting and hosting visits from the Tokyo Bible School (run by Susan Bauernfeind, class of 1899.)”

“The College supported missionary activity in China, Japan and parts of Africa and welcomed students from foreign missions to study at the College. The first Japanese students came to North-Western College in 1873. Eight Chinese students were enrolled in 1925. Among  those Chinese students was Shien-Woo Kung, who was a  72nd generation descendent of Confucius. Kung went on to a long career in banking. In 1926, the same year Kung graduated from North Central, three alumni serving as missionaries in China were captured by bandits from whom they managed to escape.”


“After World War II, a small number of Japanese students came to North Central from Hirosaki Gakuin College (now University), which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. By the mid-1980s this institution had sent several delegations to North Central to strengthen the long-standing ties between the two schools. A faculty and student exchange program was established, and North Central started its Japanese language program in 1985. The College sent its own delegation to Japan in 1989 to visit Hirosaki Gakuin and finalized another exchange program with Nagoya Gakuin University.”

“The newly created position of foreign studies coordinator helped place a small number of students each year in study abroad programs sponsored by other U.S. institutions. Most of these students went to England, France and Germany. Efforts were made to bring in foreign students, though they rarely numbered more than half a dozen each year and typically hailed from Japan, the Middle East, Africa or India. In the summer of 1985, North Central sent seven students to Nicaragua to gain first-hand experience in global issues of peace and justice. This trip became a forerunner to subsequent programs in Latin America.”


“The Office of International Programs was established in 1994. Whereas barely a dozen students pursued studies abroad each year in the 1980s, that number grew to at least 88 in the fall of 2010. Instead of two or three western European countries, students could then pick from 27 countries on five continents through exchange or direct enrollment programs.

“The enrollment of international students also saw a significant increase. Barely half a dozen international students enrolled each year during the 1980s. The College opened its doors to 55 nonimmigrant international students representing 28 countries in the fall of 2010….

“In 2002, the College received a $727,600 Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative grant, the largest in North Central’s history. The grant enabled North Central to develop a minor in Chinese, acquire a library collection in East Asian studies, launch a unique China-Japan study abroad program and send 60 K-12 educators to China and Japan. The grant came on the heels of a major Department of Education grant intended to help internationalize the curriculum under the leadership of professors Jack Shindler and Don McVicker.”

Excerpts and photos taken from "North Central College: 150 Years.  A Promising Start."