SIDNEY, you look like you need a wake-up call.” All eyes turn from the professor to a student in a white polo shirt and jeans; his expression quickly changes from drowsy to attentive. “Say ‘seiki’ for us. You know how a Japanese person would say that?” Sidney repeats the word, careful to pronounce it correctly.
At 8 a.m., students in Japanese 221 have to stay on their toes—and stay on them for two hours daily, Monday through Friday. The course is accelerated Japanese for returned missionaries, and it is just one of the many classes sought out by both BYU students and visiting students during the spring and summer months. Through BYU’s visiting student program, non-BYU students can take spring and summer classes for credit, without being formally admitted to the university. And the program is popular—especially Ronald B. Arthur’s (BA ’82) Japanese 221 class, where six of its 18 class members are visiting students.
As most visiting students can tell you, taking spring and summer classes at BYU is no vacation. Japanese 221, for example, requires its students to read lengthy Japanese passages, learn grammar patterns, and memorize 550 kanji symbols—all within the eight weeks of spring term. “This is kind of like another MTC experience where you have about two months in which you’re trying to learn all of this material,” says Arthur. Despite the rigors of this and other classes, visiting students continue to enroll—especially returned missionaries who want to brush up on their mission tongue.
Although the visiting students in Japanese 221 have seen notable improvement in their Japanese language skills, they point out that they didn’t come to BYU for the kanji alone.
“The main reason I wanted to come to BYU was to be in more of an LDS atmosphere,” says Ben Lebeau, a visiting student from Antrim, N.H., who was pleasantly surprised by the BYU tradition of starting class with prayer and was awed by the sheer number of Latter-day Saints in Utah Valley.
Tyler Ball, from Portland, Ore., and Mike Beazer, from Seattle, say they came to experience Utah and to take advantage of BYU’s Japanese program.
The visiting student program attracts undergraduates aplenty. During spring and summer terms of 2006, BYU enrolled 1,357 visiting students, 348 of which participated in a language course.
The visiting student program was established in 1998 to give non-BYU students a BYU experience while earning academic credits that can be transfered back to their own school.
M. Wayne Childs (BS ’72), chairman of the Spring/Summer Committee, says visiting students say they value BYU for what they feel here. “Visiting students continually remark on the environment,” he says. “They feel that spirit when they come, and it’s hard for them to leave because of how it blesses them.”