Reading, Pa. –A new scholarship at Albright College will provide support for students interested in studying abroad in Japan.
The Marian Frances Wolbers Study Abroad Scholarship, named in honor of the Albright instructor, will provide support to students with financial need, with preference given to students studying in Japan or other East Asian countries. The first individual scholarship of $2,500 will be awarded in the near future.
The scholarship, endowed with more than $62,000, was established by Michael Walker of Perth, Australia, in celebration of his lifelong friendship with Wolbers and their shared devotion to Japan. The two friends met in the 1970s while studying Japanese language at Keio University in Tokyo. After their studies were complete, Wolbers and Walker went their separate ways, with Walker remaining in Japan for decades to work for the Australian government and in the private sector. Wolbers, an author, eventually landed at Albright to teach English, writing and Japanese culture courses.
Decades later, the two friends reconnected, and on a visit to America, Walker toured Albright’s campus and met with students. It was then that he decided to help future Albright students have the kind of life-changing study abroad experience that he and Wolbers both enjoyed in Japan.
“When I visited Albright last year I was impressed by the campus and the students I met, a couple of whom had been to Japan under their own steam,” says Walker. “And I admire the Japan course that Marian teaches. I thought – unprompted – that a scholarship might have a good effect.
“I hope students who benefit from the scholarship will learn to appreciate that the modern world is more than North America and Europe (and Australia),” he adds.
Interest in Japan and Japanese culture has increased over the years at Albright, says Wolbers. Albright is home to an Asian Studies minor, and students have traveled to Japan and across the continent on study abroad trips.
“Michael and I are both totally dedicated to encouraging more students to go to Japan and experience East Asia,” said Wolbers. “If living in Japan can change a person as much as it did for us, and for so many other students and people we’ve known, who’s to say that scholarships like this can’t change the whole world? “By being courageous role models for others, more and more Albrightians will, ideally, find their feet in a place that will force them to put aside their assumptions and presumptions, widen their worldview, and simply be. Study abroad is a life-changer.”