CWU News

CWU unveils special partnership marker commemorating sister-university relationship

In 1990, CWU and the University of Shimane initiated a sister-university relationship, one that has grown stronger in the ensuing decades.


The longstanding partnership was the subject of a ceremony on the Ellensburg campus on Friday (August 23) when Shimane representatives attended the unveiling of a “partnership marker.” 



In this case, the marker is a cherry tree that was planted, at the request of Shimane officials, in the CWU Donald L Garrity Japanese Garden, which was also established in 1990.  The cherry tree is a revered cultural icon in Japan.



“Japan has been one of the strongest partners for Central Washington University,” said Ediz Kaykayoglu, CWU interim associate provost of Extended Learning and Outreach and executive director of the Office of International Studies and Programs, at the event. “Throughout the years there has been a steady flow of students between the two countries. Partnerships, such as the one we have with the University of Shimane, are so meaningful, because as the partnership grows and student exchange flourishes, you grow to become part of one another’s family.” 


The Shimane officials are visiting Ellensburg along with 25 of their students who are now enrolled in the WorldCat Institute, a short-term, English-language proficiency and cultural immersion program on the CWU campus.


“I heard that there were experiences that I could only have here at CWU, so I decided to join in this [WorldCat] program,” explained Nao Kanagawa, a sophomore at Shimane. “Also, through daily interactions with people who use English in their everyday lives, I believed that we could improve our English skills, make our pronunciation smoother, and our overall English more natural.”


Over the years, students from Shimane have come to CWU for up to four quarters of study in the university’s English as a Second Language program.


“I was very moved,” said Shimane professor Dustin Kidd, a 2000 CWU graduate who went on exchange student to Shimane, who was among the university contingent at the tree ceremony. “To see this sort of connection be expressed in such a way and to have been instrumental, in some ways, in making it all come together—to see a little part of myself memorialized here in the garden, in such a peaceful place—it’s a very touching moment for me.”


CWU currently has official ties with nearly 40 international universities. Annually, the university is home to roughly 500 international students from more than 65 countries from around the world.




Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,



No. 1 — (L. to r.) Matthew Britschgi, director, CWU University English as a Second Language program; Dustin Kidd, University of Shimane professor; and Ediz Kaykayoglu, executive director of CWU Office of International Studies and Programs.


No. 2 — Several of the 25 University of Shimane students who attended the CWU partnership marker ceremony.