Summer Internships in Japan

KEEPAs a result of a partnership between Berea College and the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP), each year a small group of Berea students has the opportunity to spend a summer working at a diverse non-profit in rural Yamanashi Prefecture, located just a few hours’ travel west of Tōkyō, Japan.  This is a great way in which to fulfill the College’s Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement.  Read what Aja Croteau ’16 wrote about her experience as a KEEP intern in summer 2014 here.

What is KEEP?

KEEP is a non-profit economic and community development project that is rooted in the Christian principle of service to others and located in the Yatsugatake Highlands of central Japan just north of Mt. Fuji. Paul Rusch (1897-1979), a Kentuckian and longtime lay missionary to Japan, founded KEEP with the ideals of “food, health, faith, and hope for youth.”  (KET highlighted Paul Rusch’s life on its Louisville Life program.)  Historically, KEEP has worked to put these ideals into practice by promoting youth leadership training, agricultural and environmental education, and international peace-building through cultural exchange programs.  More than 35,000 people participated in KEEP programming in 2013-14 and attendance at KEEP’s three museums was more than 100,000 people. Yamanashi Prefecture and central Kentucky share a common equestrian tradition: the Mt. Yatsugatake Horse Show held each summer in Hokuto City is famed throughout Japan. KEEP facilitates an exchange program between Berea, Richmond, and Madison County with Hokuto City, the municipality where KEEP is located.

Who can apply?

Any student who meets the following criteria is eligible to apply for the KEEP Summer Internship Program:

  • Has completed two regular terms of study at Berea
  • Has a minimum GPA of 2.25
  • Is not in his/her final term at Berea
  • Is not on academic, labor, or social probation
  • Is not an F-1 international student
  • Has personal and/or professional interests that relate to KEEP’s mission and activities (Japanese language skills are not required, but are highly recommended)

Housing, meals, and transportation to/from the airport in Japan will be provided by KEEP.  There are limitations regarding Berea College funding for international internships if you have received Berea funding for a previous international experience.

What would I do at KEEP?

The students selected will be expected to participate fully in the life and work of KEEP by taking on supervised labor assignments tailored to both their academic and professional interests and KEEP’s needs and resources.  For example, interns might assist KEEP by participating in the daily operations of KEEP’s lodging (including cabins and campsites) and dining facilities, planning and executing a special event to share their cultural traditions and English language skills with KEEP visitors (children and adults), helping to maintain small-scale organic gardens, or participating in Paul Rusch Memorial Museum activities such as leading museum tours for English speakers, researching  the background of individual museum collection pieces, and cataloging archival items. Interns will work full-time for nine weeks, departing for Japan in mid-June and returning in mid-August.

How can I apply?

Applicants should nominate themselves for consideration by submitting an application along with two faculty recommendations as email attachments to by December 1 of the year prior to the summer internship.   The application form is available here.  The subject line of the email containing the application should be “KEEP Application—Lastname.”  Recommendations should come directly from the faculty member’s email account.  

Application materials will be reviewed by a committee made up of the department chairs from Agriculture and Natural Resources, Asian Studies, Sustainability and Environmental Studies, the Director of Internships, and the Education Abroad Adviser.

The two students selected will be asked to meet as a group with the Director of Internships and the Education Abroad Adviser to review the process necessary for participation in an international internship, which includes an application to the Center for International Education (CIE) and an internship proposal to the Office of Internships