Middlebury “Kizuna”

I, along with Dina Wolkoff ’88 and Mike Schoenfeld ’73, am traveling in Asia, visiting alumni, parents, and friends of the College. During the trip, we will make occasional postings from Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This posting is by Mike Schoenfeld ’73.


Koichi Ishiyama ’69 can remember the day he could first understand English. It was December 14, 1966.  Half way through his sophomore year, the first Japanese student to attend Middlebury was watching Walter Cronkite on the evening news when suddenly he found himself understanding every word. Now Koichi reads six Japanese and American newspapers every day, looking for nuances in the use of language that can inform the next edition of his Japanese-English dictionary—the most popular in Japan. The latest version listed 180,000 words, although Koichi modestly claimed responsibility for editing only about 90,000.

Aki Ito ’09 just received a major promotion. Bloomberg is transferring her from Tokyo to San Francisco to be the lead reporter to cover the news coming out of the Federal Reserve offices west of the Mississippi. Pretty heady stuff for the 24-year-old who graduated less than three year ago, particularly when she never took an economics course at Middlebury.

Senae Eda, director of the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Japan, introduces President Ron Liebowitz at the Tokyo reception.

Last night, Andrew Lind ’13 stood in front of the largest gathering that Middlebury has ever held in Japan and offered a three-minute introduction of President Liebowitz in Japanese. Not bad for a history major who is studying abroad his junior year at Middlebury’s program in Tokyo. He received a well-deserved applause from the crowd that included 10 of his study-abroad classmates.

Three people—three different stories—all connected through the power of a Middlebury education.

One of the Japanese words that Koichi pointed out to us randomly as he was showing us his dictionary was the word kizuna—literally translated “ties.” Koichi explained that kizuna can be seen as the bonds that connect people together for a common purpose. The shared pride in the accomplishments of our College and our students was palpable at the Tokyo reception and the connections to the college are obviously strong. The Asia trip is off to a great start.

—Mike Schoenfeld ’73, senior vice president and senior philanthropic adviser

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