Tuesday, October 31, 2006

International Students - Part of Reserve History

When the WRA Board of Visitors gathered for their meeting at the end of October, the focus of their discussion was on international students at Reserve. International students have been an important part of the Reserve community for 3o years, but it may not be well known that even in the 19th century, our Preparatory School welcomed students from beyond our borders.

As early as the 1840s our school had a student from England, and several who came from what is now the province of Ontario, Canada. But in 1879 we welcomed two students from Japan: Mishitado Tsura of Tokyo and Rikizo Nakashima from Kyoto. They arrived just 11 years after the Meiji Restoration which opened up Japan to communication with the outside world after nearly 300 years of total isolation. Very few Japanese had the opportunity to study abroad in those early years, and those who were allowed to go understood that they were part of a mission to modernize their country while preserving its cultural values. Both students had attended schools that had connections with the U.S. In the case of Nakashima, he had attended the Doshisha School in Kyoto which had been founded by Christian missioners, a fact confirmed by his great-granddaughter who visited our campus in the spring of 2001.

Nakashima boarded at Mrs. Lord's house directly across the street from the school because Mrs. Lord had spent several years working as a missionary with her husband in India and elsewhere. One of Nakashima's accomplishments was finishing three years of the prep school in just one year. He also impressed Hudson residents by giving an illustrated lecture on Japan at the Adelphian Hall, then located downtown where the Saywell building is today. He went on to a notable career as an academic after completing degrees at Western Reserve University and Yale. He wrote several books and became a leading figure in Japanese education. He died in Tokyo in 1918.