In November, 2013, a Samuel Merritt University (SMU) delegation visited Serei Christopher University (SCU) in Hamamatsu, Japan, to meet their leadership and the faculty in nursing, rehabilitation services--physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech and hearing therapy--and social work; to tour their campus and related clinical facilities; and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that enables SMU and SCU to sponsor exchanges involving students, faculty and staff.
"We received a very warm welcome," said Cynthia Ulman, Executive Director, Planning & Business Development. "First, with a meeting where SMU's delegation and SCU's faculty and leadership discussed their hopes for this new relationship, later with a welcome reception that included performances by the Serei Christopher high school taiko drumming team and the koto (Japanese harp) club plus a tea ceremony."
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding was a formal ceremony with speeches from each university's president, an exchange of gifts between the two institutions, and the execution of two copies of the MOU to launch this partnership.
The SMU Office of the President negotiated the agreement (with the help of a bilingual attorney) and will be the contact point for initiating exchanges by faculty, staff, and/or students. The Office of the President will maintain the relationship, and will be the channel for exchange opportunities to be implemented, whether they focus on cross-cultural experiences for students, faculty research, or curriculum development.
SCU is a very similar institution to SMU in terms of the health professions it serves and the history of its development. Along with its similarities, however, go a host of differences in culture, teaching practices, and health care delivery systems. For example, the quality, dignity, and sensitivity with which people provide service to others in Japanese tradition can teach us a lot about what it means to be a compassionate caregiver.
This partnership takes SMU to a new level in recognizing the global context of health professions education and research, and it will create exciting new opportunities for members of the SMU community.
View more photos here.