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Students, Alumni Selected for Prestigious Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program

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Laura Bruening is a senior majoring in musical theatre with a minor in Japanese.
Edson deOliveira is a biology major from Omaha.
Ophelia Morreale of San Leandro, Calif., is majoring in musical theatre with a minor in Japanese.
Jordan Klasek graduated from NWU in 2010 with degrees in international business and theatre.

Three Nebraska Wesleyan University students and two alumni have been accepted into the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program.

Seniors Laura Bruening and Edson deOliveira, both of Omaha, and Ophelia Morreale of San Leandro, Calif., will spend the next year teaching in Japan. They will be joined by Rachel Boellstorff, a 2013 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan and native of Homer, Neb., and Jordan Klasek of Lincoln, a 2010 graduate.

Now in its 30th year, the JET Program promotes a grassroots international exchange between Japan and other nations. Those accepted into the prestigious program teach English in Japanese schools or work in Japanese communities on international exchange activities.

The exchange will mark the first time Morreale has traveled outside of the United States.

“I have been interested in Japanese culture and the beautiful landscape of the country for as long as I can remember,” said Morreale, a musical theatre major and Japanese minor. “Aside from teaching, I am excited to explore the countryside, travel to different places, make new friends, and get as much as I can out of the experience.”

Bruening, who is also majoring in musical theatre and minoring in Japanese, is looking forward to the teaching opportunity.

“Whether they be elementary or high school students, I know that the students will be able to teach me more about Japan than I could ever discover on my own,” said Bruening.

deOliveira recently returned from a year in Brazil where he participated in a medical internship program. During his NWU career, deOliveira also studied abroad in Hong Kong, and was a student tutor for Chinese classes on campus. deOliveira — who moved to the U.S. from Angola as a child — is confident that his teaching experience in Japan will better prepare him for the medical field.

“For medical professionals who want to have a global impact in healthcare, cultural immersion is vital in preparing them for a changing field of medicine that is shifting to a more global perspective,” he said.

Boellstorff graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan in 2013 and majored in political science and minored in global studies. She said she was inspired by a former JET Program participant and NWU alum to apply for the program.

Klasek graduated in 2010 with degrees in international business and theatre. While at Nebraska Wesleyan, he studied abroad in Italy and also participated in the University Choir’s international tour to Europe.