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Aoyama Gakuin University

Students walk across the Sagamihara Campus of Aoyama Gakuin University, a Japanese Christian university near Tokyo. The school was established by the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States in 1874.

Student exchange program opens world

Starting this fall, students from six United Methodist-related universities in the United States and six international Methodist universities will have an opportunity to learn firsthand from each other in a new student exchange program.

The Methodist International Student Exchange Network is an initiative of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities managed by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville, Tenn. There are 755 institutions in the Wesleyan tradition listed in the association's directory.

Engaging in extended international encounters can be one of the most significant learning experiences possible, said Ted Brown, president of the executive committee of IAMSCU the association and Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.

The idea for a student exchange program was introduced during a July 2011 joint meeting of the international and national university associations in Washington as a way to promote interaction and cooperation among institutions in the Methodist tradition, Brown said.

For more information, contact the Board of Higher Education and Ministry at (615) 742-5470 or email iamscu@gbhem.org.

Student exchange programs usually are bilateral agreements between two institutions requiring a lot of effort and expense, Brown said. The Methodist exchange program simplifies that process by forming a network of institutions. It also offers more flexibility for the institutions to send and receive students from any school participating in the network.

Financial aid packages remain in place through the exchange so the only financial responsibility the student has is to pay for room and board at the host school.

"I know both from personal experience and from exchanges that students at Martin Methodist College have engaged in that an extended international encounter can be one of the most significant learning experiences possible," Brown said. "If you take that basic premise and put it in the context of a network of Methodist institutions, I am convinced we will have a very powerful tool for church leadership development."

The schools participating are:

*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.