For more than two months, Kota Nishiwaki left his family behind to travel around the world so he can learn a skill that will benefit his students and his home country of Japan.
"We'd like to improve our English language class," Nishiwaki said.
He is one of 13 teachers from around Japan attending an eight-week program at the University of Denver's University College to learn how to casually speak English and teach it effectively to their students back home.
"In order to enhance students' practical English abilities, I'd like to learn a lot of things," Nishiwaki said. "I'd like to kinda connect what we are learning here in Denver to what we can do in Japan."
The senior high school teacher from the small city of Gifu located in Central Japan says English skills are important for students because of a globalized economy. Japan is also hosting the Olympics in 2020.
"It's very important for us to learn English, especially practical English," Nishiwaki said.
The Japanese Ministry of Education selected DU as the only program in America to train its teachers. University College Dean Michael McGuire says that's shows that the University of Denver is committed to global education.
"I think it is validation," McGuire said. "I like the fact that our commitment takes many forms."
McGuire says the academic aspect is just one part of the learning experience in the United States for the teachers from Japan.
"Not just coming to classroom for eight hours a day, right, that's only part of the learning experience," McGuire said. "They're also staying with host families. They're traveling within Colorado and outside of Colorado."
Nishiwaki says learning the language is more than just memorizing words.
"When we like to learn English, we should know the culture behind the language and people who are using the language also," Nishiwaki said.