Japan Outreach Initiative

Expanding Connections between Nebraska and Japan Japan Outreach Initiatve

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Mariko in a yukata standing in front of a Japanese poster
UNL students playing a game with chopsticks

What is the Japan Outreach Initiative?

In fall 2021, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was thrilled to welcome Mariko Nagai as the Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) Coordinator, where she will help increased connections in the local community between Nebraska and Japan.

A joint initiative of The Japan Foundation and Laurasian Institution, the Japan Outreach Initiative brings volunteer Japanese coordinators to regions of the U.S. where Japanese culture has been less accessible. JOI coordinators are hosted by U.S. nonprofits and educational institutions with a strong commitment to promoting learning about Japan. During the two-year program, JOI coordinators engage their American community through Japanese-themed programming—from lectures to hands-on elementary school activities to events focusing on traditional Japanese art forms.

Mariko Nagai in front of the Nebraska Union

Meet Mariko Nagai, JOI Coordinator

Mariko Nagai (永井  麻莉子) is originally from Fukuoka City in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in intercultural studies from Seinan Gakuin University. Her first experience in the U.S. was as a high school student through a sister city cultural exchange program between Fukuoka City and Oakland, California. Inspired by this experience, she decided to join a month-long summer language school in Minnesota, as well as a study abroad program at Middle Tennessee State University during her bachelor's degree for two semesters.

Prior to serving as a JOI Coordinator, Mariko worked for six years as an English instructor and program coordinator, and two years as a conference organizer. It has always been a dream of hers to be a bridge between Japan and other countries, especially with the U.S. because of the experiences she had as student. She is excited to engage the university and greater Nebraska community while connecting with many people and strengthening their understanding of Japan as a JOI Coordinator.

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JOI Coordinator Support

As the JOI Coordinator, Mariko is available to help the university and local community build stronger bonds between the U.S. and Japan. Below are some examples of ways she can help facilitate these connections, or you can email her for more ideas.


Cultural Events

  • Assisting and supporting community cultural events

Education-Related Activities

  • Visiting classrooms and guest lectures or workshops
  • Assisting Japanese/English conversation tables

Partnerships & Professional Development

  • Helping to develop and advise on institutional and business partnerships

Connect with Mariko!

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