When Joe Latkovich transferred to Ohio State in 2015, he knew what he wanted in a global experience — immersion and convenience.

Presented with the opportunity to travel to Japan as part of the Kakehashi Project, Latkovich jumped at the chance. As part of the program, he and 22 other Fisher students spent their spring breaks learning more about the country, how global business is conducted and the Japanese culture.

“I transferred into Ohio State, so I knew I couldn’t do a full semester abroad without delaying graduation, and thus I wanted to go abroad during a school break,” he said. “I had been abroad before, but only to English-speaking countries, so I thought it would be fun to travel to a country where English wasn’t prominent.”

The Kakehashi Project was administered by Fisher’s Office of Global Business (OGB) and heavily subsidized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Center. Students selected for the program participated in lectures, workshops and events to expand their knowledge of Japanese society, history, culture and economics. The students engaged with business and government leaders and participated in a homestay.

Student reflections: Kakehashi Project

Cindy Trannguyen, a second-year student double majoring in theatre and marketing and exploring an Asian American studies minor, was part of the Fisher delegation.

“Prior to the trip, I had very little knowledge of Japan. And the information that I did have was provided to me through pop culture rather than through my own research,” she said. “After coming back from this trip, my perspective on how business is conducted around the world has expanded greatly.”

Kakehashi 3
Students conduct a presentation as part of the Kakehashi Project.

The experience, like all of the OGB’s opportunities, complemented the students’ classroom curriculum.

“I was able to develop a good foundation on global commerce from the curriculum at Fisher, but it’s tough to make the concepts feel tangible and relevant without going abroad,” said Latkovich, a fourth-year student specializing in finance and minoring in economics. “Visiting Daihatsu and OMRON’s facilities in Oita really helped me to bridge that gap between the classroom and the outside world; beyond the nuances of how they competed in their respective markets and how they ran their factories, we were able to see how their business practices differed from those in the U.S., such as their emphasis on company loyalty.”

Explore global offerings available at Fisher

For Trannguyen, the opportunity to immerse herself in the Japanese culture was particularly powerful.

“Until the homestay, we had been staying in hotels and experiencing the country through the windows of a bus,” she said. “However, during the homestay, we were able to immerse ourselves more into the culture. Also, my homestay mother was phenomenal. She was so accommodating and hospitable, and this spoke a lot to Japanese hospitality, which is very much a real thing.”

Kakehashi tea ceremony
Students participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Latkovich was thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Kakehashi Project and for all the other global offerings provided to Fisher students.

“In class, I had learned a good deal about foreign trade, and I knew Japan was a major trading partner with the U.S., so I thought the Kakehashi Project would be a great fit,” he said. “The Office of Global Business has plenty of opportunities, so I would encourage anyone who is thinking about going abroad to explore all of the programs that OGB has to offer.”