Two Luther College seniors selected for one-year internships in Japan

March 5, 2012 

Luther College seniors Rick DeVoss and Alison Sancken have been selected by the Labo International Exchange Foundation to participate in a year-long internship in Japan.

DeVoss, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, is majoring in anthropology and art at Luther.

Sancken, from Saunemin, Ill., is majoring in anthropology and history at Luther.

Labo program participants are competitively selected, based on their application information, essays, a telephone interview, and an in-person interview with a Labo representative in Sacramento, Calif.

"I was motivated to apply, because I love new cultures and living abroad," said Sancken. "There is something exhilarating about living in an unfamiliar place and trying to learn as much of the local culture as possible."

DeVoss and Sancken will spend two months studying Japanese at Labo's NIHONGO Institute in Tokyo where they will receive training and orientation to the Japanese culture and Labo responsibilities.

After training they will spend 10 months working in Labo offices throughout Japan presenting about life in North America, working at Labo's summer and winter camps, leading Labo's winter and summer exchange programs, and facilitating English in the Labo offices and exchange programs.

"I sought this position because of my experience teaching English in India and Tanzania, and I feel like it is a natural extension of these highly rewarding experiences," said DeVoss. "I have always felt happiest connecting and growing with children."

During their time in Japan, DeVoss and Sancken will participate in an independent study project examining some aspect of traditional Japanese culture. Before leaving Japan, the interns will complete a final presentation, demonstration or paper regarding their cultural research.

Labo was founded in 1963 as part of the Tokyo English Center as a program offering English-language classes to Japanese businessmen. For the first 10 years, Labo provided education opportunities to children, students and education centers throughout Japan.

The Labo International Exchange Foundation was established in 1973 as a two-way Labo/4-H exchange program in which 318 youth from 4-H clubs in the U.S. participated in the first summer program in Japan.

Since 1973, Labo now has exchange programs in Canada, Korea, Australia, China and New Zealand.