Over 30 students from Japan are hitting the books at Big Bend Community College (BBCC) as part of the annual Japanese Agricultural Trainees (JAPT) program.

Spokesperson Tiffany Fondren said the students, who are all mostly in their early-to-mid 20's, will take classes like English and Intro to Ag, live in dorms, and go on field trips to locations around the area.

"There's a great opportunity for a lot of our community members to interact with (the students). Show them around and trade stories about growing up in different places. Kind of that cultural exchange," said Fondren.

Since 1966 Japanese students in the program have attended BBCC before spending another 14 months on the farm and learning more specialized skills around the country. Each trainee will also have the opportunity to visit a location of their choice in the United States for an educational trip.

"Students come over and learn some of the U.S. tech and farming methods." Fondren said, "They then take it back home with them in their specialized field."

Specialized fields include areas like poultry, beef, dairy, flowers, vegetables, fruit and more.

Over 5,000 trainees have received instruction at BBCC since JAPT's inception 56 years ago.


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