Japanese Students Meet West Virginia Banking

By Mazza, Larry F. | ABA Banking Journal, September 1990 | Go to article overview

Japanese Students Meet West Virginia Banking


Mazza, Larry F., ABA Banking Journal


Globalization is the buzzword of the money center banks in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London. But how about in West Virginia, specifically in a $12 million-asset branch in a town of just over 2,000 people?

Well, East and West have met in Salem, W Va., as a result of a merger in the summer of 1989 between the local 400-student Salem College and Tokyo's Teikyo University, which boasts six campuses and 23,000 students.

The merger has brought $13 million of Teikyo's funds to Salem thus far, and the money has been spent to pay off $5 million in debts, establish a $7.5 million endowment, finance a scholarship for Appalachian high school students, raise faculty salaries, and refurbish the college. Salem's enrollment is expected to grow to 1,000 students over the next several years, divided evenly between American and Japanese students.

What has all of this meant to banking in this community? Change and challenge.

The local branch of The Empire National Bank of Clarksburg, W Va., has long had a strong relationship with the students in this local college town, so it wanted to continue this by becoming comfortable with the Japanese approach to banking. For starters, bank executives have taken a Japanese language course offered by Salem-Teikyo. Barbara A. Hardisty, assistant vice-president and branch manager, feels the class was helpful in communicating with the students.

"Most Japanese students have had at least six years of English in high school and understand the written word much better than the spoken word, " she adds.

The bank hired a Japanese consultant to facilitate in the development of bank brochures and business cards printed in Japanese. The consultant also conducted sensitivity training courses for Empire's employees and other local business people who were interested in the program. Some of the topics of the training course were in nonverbal communication (body language), how students feel upon arrival in the U.S., verbal and written language, and what banking is like in Japan.

How we do it. The bank and the university also developed an "Orientation to Banking" workshop for the students. …

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