A new “Covenant of Cooperation” was signed Sept. 4 by officials from Northwestern and Baiko Gakuin University in Shimonoseki, Japan. The covenant renews a partnership between the two colleges that Baiko Gakuin ended several years ago.
Baiko was NW’s first sister college, a relationship which was established in 1979 under the leadership of the late Lyle VanderWerff, former director of international student programs.
The partnership was originally created to attract Baiko Gakuin students to NW. Students would come to the Summer Institute for International Students and stay for three to four weeks for an English immersion experience in rural U.S., and other students would come for a junior year program.
This partnership benefitted NW by providing students the opportunity to go to Japan and study at Baiko Gakuin University through a summer study abroad program. More recently, Baiko has been employing NW graduates as English as a Second Language teachers. Both schools hope the renewed covenant will retain all of the programs named in the initial agreement.
Kevin McMahan, director of International and Intercultural Affairs at NW, said the leaders at Baiko Gakuin “saw the value of being partners with a small, Christian, Dutch Reformed college. We are happy to host and reaffirm this relationship with Baiko.”
Baiko Gakuin and NW are both Christian colleges that share a Reformed heritage. Baiko was established nearly 140 years ago with roots in the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian church.
Baiko Gakuin is a co-ed college with about 1,000 students. It offers degrees in Japanese literature, English literature, foreign languages and elementary education.
Representatives from Baiko Gakuin arrived on campus on Sept. 2 and left on Sept. 7. During their stay, they took in a football game with president Christy, toured industries in Orange City and Sioux Center and sat in on classes.
“It was a very fun visit,” said McMahan, who will be traveling to Japan in November to visit some other sister schools.