Aiko Hatano.jpgMSU President's Newspaper Column

September 11, 2021 

Aiko Hatano has joined our community and looks forward to sharing her Japanese culture

We are delighted to welcome Aiko Hatano to our campus and community. Aiko is a volunteer Japanese Outreach Coordinator with JOI (Japan Outreach Initiative). We at Mayville State will serve as her host for the next two years. Funded by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP) and administered by the Laurasian Institution, JOI was created to build stronger links among people, communities, academic institutions, and organizations in the United States and Japan.

Aiko’s goal while she is on the Mayville State campus and in our community is to share Japanese language and culture, connecting people here with the people of Japan. She hopes to build sustainable programs that will continue the exchange between Japan and North Dakota long after she has gone.

JOI volunteer coordinators are placed in host sites in the Midwestern, southern, and mountain regions of the U.S. for two years. The locations chosen are places where there are relatively limited opportunities for Japan-related activities and education. While in their designated locations, coordinators share information about Japanese culture, society, everyday life, and language with local citizens. They facilitate dialog about U.S.-Japan issues and organize activities that foster learning and exchanges, nurture new leaders in grassroots exchange, and foster partnerships. Outreach activities support and expand upon the goals of the host organizations.

Aiko is eager to provide presentations and activities, not only on the Mayville State campus, but also in Mayville-Portland and the 250-mile radius around our community. Some of the topics she’d like to share include: life in Japan (school and daily); Japanese food; kimono, yukata (traditional clothing); seasonal events (festivals and holidays); sightseeing in Japan; pop culture (Anime, Manga, music); modern Japanese art; Japanese language; origami (paper folding); Shodo (calligraphy); cooking sushi and rice balls; traditional games; folk tales (traditional stories); chopsticks challenge; and Japanese song and dance. Among these ideas and others, Aiko would like to use online tools to help connect people in our area with those in Japan.

I have been happy to see Aiko at several student events during the past couple of weeks. She is working hard to immerse herself in the campus community and to get her work of building relationships among the people of the United States and Japan underway 

Last week, Aiko introduced herself at an event held on campus for students, faculty, and staff. Those who attended the event sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion were able to learn about Aiko’s family, her educational background, her favorite foods, and the things she likes to do. Some of her favorite hobbies are calligraphy, playing hand bells, and origami.

In response, those in attendance gave their ideas for how they and other members of the campus community could best learn more from Aiko and about Japan, building the connections that are at the heart of Aiko’s mission while at Mayville State and in the United States. A great dialog has begun and we look forward to seeing the exciting things we know are ahead.

Would your group or class be interested in connecting with Aiko and the topics she wishes to present? Feel free to reach out to her at or 701-561-9756, or on Instagram at @aiko_japan_msu_nd.