The CEPCO Experience
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On May 31, 1997, I left for a three month study abroad experience in Japan. For the first two months, I was in Hikone, in Shiga Prefecture, Michigan's "sister state." At the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU), I studied Japanese in an intensive language program. I was housed with Japanese students, as well as students from universities around the United States. I was immersed in an intercultural environment. All JCMU students, from Japan and from the United States, were striving to improve their language skills and cultural awareness. During the fmal week of study at JCMU, I took my exams early and I packed my things for my one month internship in Nagoya. The purpose of my internship was to learn about the inner-workings of a large Japanese company. Everyday, myself and two other interns went to different departments of the company and met staff members chosen to share their expertise with us. In these meetings, the department representatives explained to us what role their department played in the success of the company. They taught us how the larger company objectives and philosophies were applied in their division. We also had the opportunity to exchange our ideas with the employees. We were often asked to share our opinions about Japanese business strategies and procedures. We also helped them to better understand business methods in our home countries. The ultimate objective was to help both parties (CEPCO staff members and we, the interns) further develop our knowledge of large companies in an international forum.