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Japanese students visit Duquense

By Zach Kuntz
On March 14, 2011

  • Khalid Kamal, professor of pharmaceutical administration, lectures on American health care to Japanese pharmacy students visiting from Kobe Gakuin University in Akashi, Japan. The students will be on campus until March 11. Zach Kuntz / The Duke

A group of 26 pharmacy students from Kobe Gakuin University in Akashi, Japan, are visiting Duquesne this week as part of a program that studies how pharmacy is taught in the United States.


Khalid Kamal, a pharmaceutical administration professor, is hosting the 26 Japanese students on campus from March 4 to 11. In addition to learning about U.S. pharmacy studies, they will visit Duquesne's Hill District Pharmacy, the campus Health Center and other Pittsburgh pharmacies. The students were also sightseeing in New York City and Washington, D.C., the week before coming to Duquesne.


The students, most of whom do not speak English, communicate through an interpreter from Kobe Gakuin, Sari Nakagawa.


Kamal said one of the biggest differences between Japanese and American students is the amount of respect they have for their teachers.


"There's a big cultural difference in how the Japanese perceive teachers," Kamal said. "There's big respect for them [in Japan]. They're almost kept on a pedestal."


Through an interpreter, Fumiko Otofuji, one of the Japanese students, agreed.


"Students in the United States talk a lot more to teachers," Otofuji said. "In Japan, the students don't raise their hands or ask as many questions."


Kamal said this cultural difference had made it difficult to get the visiting students involved in the classroom. While lecturing on the U.S. health care system, he tried to involve the students as much as possible.


"Japanese students are very passive. I'm trying to force them into working in groups and answer questions for points," he said.


Also through an interpreter, Chinami Otani from Hyogo, Japan, said Japanese students tend to have a different work ethic than American pharmacy students.


"They're [American students] spending all of this time studying, then they're also doing community work for school," Otani said. "It's different than in Japan, we don't do community work, and we don't have internships."


Nakagawa noted another difference between the two countries' programs.


"Japan doesn't have a Pharm-D [doctorate] program, and the students spend less time with hands-on experience. Working with patients is a lot easier here," she said.


Otani said the group has had some difficulties adjusting to an American lifestyle during their visit.


"The meals here are a lot larger," Otani said. "The weather here is surprising. It was raining, then snowing, and now it's a sunny day."


Nakagawa said the students are learning to enjoy a different style of education.


"I've never seen them look so happy while at school," she said.

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