“The Friendship Program is not about finding friendship. It is about practicing friendship.”
This fall in Tokyo International University witnesses a brand new program full of new experience and potential. “The Friendship Program” is held online by Abigail, the leader of this program. The first featured article will focus on Ms. Abigail and her thoughts for the program.
Who is Abigail?
Abigail B. Carrigan grew up in Mississippi and moved to Japan in August 2019. Since then, she has been working at TIU for two years. She teaches Academic Composition for international students and English for Japanese students this year.
The aim of The Friendship Program is to foster intercultural communication and information exchange. Since there are more than 1300 international students in TIU, by developing intercultural friendship between J-track and E-track students, this program can help students obtain both the knowledge and the experience that will be needed to adapt to the current highly globalized world.
What motivates her?
She launched the program initially for her students. The concerns appeared when she started her online classes. There were many TIU students who were willing to study abroad (outside Japan) but were not able to, as well as E-track students who were forced to stay in their home country despite having been admitted into TIU. All because of Covid-19. Then, she thought to herself: why not create the opportunity for both student bodies to meet each other? By having students who are passionate in doing cultural exchange be with each other, she hoped that diverse and interesting communication could flourish.
The process of the Friendship program is simple. Students only need to fill in an application form. After collecting all application forms, the program team will match students with their interests from the form. Matched students will be in a group of 2 or 3, and all have different backgrounds. After that, they will be provided with a meeting URL to meet each other. By doing this, participants can focus on conversing without worrying about personal information being leaked.
In this program, Abigail wishes that both E-track and J-track students interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds to grow, improve and practice friendship skills.
“We do not promise that participants will be able to have close friends by the end of the semester. However, we do provide chances to practice friendship. Practicing relationships means demonstrating friendship and kindness through civility, interesting conversation and sharing your culture.”
The application for the friendship program has closed for now and the first matching has already started. However, her team is looking forward to opening the application again next spring. So, stay tuned for more updates!
Abigail was a very kind person. Not only did she follow up with my language mistakes, she also talked to me as if she was a “professional friend agent.” One of the memorable comments from her was “I think we all have friends who maybe we didn’t know we would be friends with.” I hope she will have success with her upcoming projects.