In the late 1980s, a boy named Tomohiro Inoue graduated from a high school in Osaka, Japan and applied for admission to several Japanese universities.
Admission is based on scores on entrance examinations taken during a period known as “examination hell” and the exams are notoriously difficult and can make or break a young person’s future.
Tomohiro, or Tomo, which he was always called, didn’t score sufficiently high to be accepted by any of the universities to which he had applied. His future concerning higher education looked rather dim until his mother saw an advertisement in a Japanese newspaper inviting young people to apply to a soon to be opened branch of Oklahoma State University in Kameoka.
Tomo’s mother encouraged him to apply, so he did and was conditionally accepted with full acceptance based on his TOFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score. The first academic classes at OSU-K started in September 1991 and Tomo was in my Physics class that morning.
Tomo continued to live in his parents’ home in Osaka and drove about 40 miles each direction through the mountains each school day, but he was always present, on time, and an overall excellent student. But it was beyond time in class that Tomo made the best impression with the faculty, staff and the other students. He was always happy and fun to be around and since he came from home, he had a car and if any staff needed something picked up or delivered, someone picked up at the train station or almost any request, Tomo was happy to help.
One morning on his way to school, he found an injured monkey along the mountain road that someone had hit with a car and he carefully gathered it up and nursed it back to health with some help from his father who was a medical doctor. He so enjoyed that experience that he though he might like to be a veterinarian. During the two years that Tomo was at OSU-K Kayo and I were invited to his parents’ home several times and always had a very nice time.
While visiting in their home, Tomo and his parents took us to Osaka Castle, the site of the Expo 70 World Exposition in Osaka and several other places of interest. After completing his two years of general education courses at OSU-K, he transferred to OSU to complete his coursework for a BS degree. Soon after graduation he applied for admission into a graduate program and expressed a desire to enroll in the College of Veterinary Medicine and became the first international student ever admitted into the program.
During his time on the OSU campus he was through and through a Cowboy. After graduation he was employed by the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, one of the leading colleges of veterinary medicine in the country ad continues to work there, as does his wife who is also a gradate of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Very recently our granddaughter, Hannah, who I’m proud to say is an exceptional student about to begin her senior year in high school in Westfield, Indiana, was invited to visit Purdue, as well as several other major universities.
She was given a personal tour of the university’s facilities by Tomo, or more appropriate today as Dr. Inoue who continues to show himself to be one with meshitsukai no kokoro, or one with a servant’s heart. Thank you Dr. Inoue for giving Hannah a personal tour of Purdue University.
Larry Jones is a member of the Stillwater Sister Cities Council.