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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Beacon College expands study abroad program to Tokyo for neurodivergent students

Beacon College launches its expanded study abroad program in February, offering an opportunity for neurodivergent students to extend their studies with a semester in Tokyo.  

Believed to offer the only semester-long global education program for students with learning and attention issues, Beacon in Tokyo will be based in Musashi-Kosugi in the Nakahara Ward, a commuter suburb southwest of Tokyo. Leading the students’ academic program, Dr. James Fleming, professor of business and technology, and Michael Fallon, instructor and coordinator of the college’s business management program, will offer classes focused on Japanese pop culture, its economy and the technology behind anime. 

“Statistics show that very few students with learning disabilities are able to participate in a study abroad program,” said Beacon College Provost Dr. Shelly Chandler. “So, we created our Beacon in Tuscany program in 2017, and it has been a tremendous success. We see how much our students grow from being in the program. Our students love Japanese traditions and culture, so this was a natural extension for our study abroad offering.” 

The Beacon in Tokyo program will kick off on Feb. 5 and last for 12 weeks. While in Japan, the students will enjoy regular trips to popular historic and contemporary sites of interest. 

“Experiential learning is an integral part of study abroad programs and highly beneficial for students who learn differently,” explained Fallon. “Many students gain increased self-advocacy skills that last a lifetime. During my semester in Tuscany, Italy, with the students, I witnessed them discover hidden strengths and talents, which lead to increased confidence in their abilities and in how they navigated academic and personal challenges,” 

Students will be able to explore the nearby shops and sights of Musashi-Kosugi, and they will participate in guided excursions informed by their coursework that facilitates a more immersive experience. Throughout a series of immersive field trips related to their academic coursework, they will delve into automotive manufacturing, cutting-edge electronics and gaming technology, sustainable agriculture practices, resourceful mining operations and shipbuilding. During weekends and breaks, students will also travel to other parts of Tokyo and Japan. 

The new Beacon in Tokyo offering builds upon the school’s already successful study abroad program to Italy. The plan is to offer the Tokyo version of study abroad each spring while Beacon in Tuscany, hosted in the medieval city of Prato, remains an option for students every fall. 

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