DMACC Dental Hygiene Exchange with Yamanashi Dental Hygiene Program
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Dental Hygiene student Ashley Bradshaw of Maurice joined fellow student Kim Meyer of Rockwell City and Professor Jackie Kollasch on a 10-day trip to Japan. This marked the 50th anniversary of the Yamanashi Dental Hygiene College (YDHC) in Kofu and DMACC had just concluded its 50th year. This also marked the 30th anniversary of an exchange between DMACC’s Dental Hygiene program and YDHC.
Bradshaw and Meyer were selected to represent the Dental Hygiene students through an application and interview process.
DMACC Dental Hygiene Professor Jackie Kollasch (left) and DMACC Dental Hygiene students Kim Meyer of Rockwell City and Ashley Bradshaw of Maurice tour the “Hello Kitty” statue at Takeda Shrine. The DMACC delegation said they learned that “Hello Kitty” actually originated in Kofu, Japan. The trio was in Japan as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the exchange between DMACC and the Yamanashi Dental Hygiene College in Kofu.
Bradshaw said it was an educational and insightful trip, noting many differences between the two programs. YDHC has a three-year dental hygiene program which is basically dental assisting and dental hygiene combined. At DMACC, there is a one-year Dental Assisting program and a two-year Dental Hygiene program, both based out of the Ankeny Campus.
Professor Kollasch said Japan has a nationalized healthcare system, while the United States does not. She said being in the dental field in Japan does not pay as much as it would here because the U.S. has private insurances.
Student Ashley Bradshaw shows off some pottery she made during one of the stops on the exchange program.
“Their dental hygienists also do the job of a dental assistant,” said Bradshaw. “We have two different occupations. They don’t have a license to do X-rays. They can place an X-ray, but a dentist has to push the button for the X-ray. Many of their students came to the Dental Hygiene College right out of high school.”
Bradshaw, 23, has been out of the United States only once before, on a trip to Canada when she was very young.
Bradshaw said she really enjoyed the food in Japan.
“I ate anything and everything,” said Bradshaw. “I even liked octopus. Our Japanese hosts also offered wonderful desserts.”
At the 50th anniversary celebration, Bradshaw and Meyer each gave a presentation before an audience that included students and faculty from YDHC as well as other members of the dental community in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Near the glass floor of the 2080 foot tall Tokyo Skytree, the largest tower in the world.
“I spoke about the DMACC Dental Hygiene program, the requirements from the program acceptance and what classes you need to take to be on the waiting list. I also spoke about the first year of the DMACC Dental Hygiene program and gave a brief orientation on DMACC, our programs and a college overview. Kim (Meyer) talked about the second year dental hygiene students and the fourth and fifth semester rotations, including working at the corrections institutions and the Veterans Administration.”
Bradshaw said the DMACC trio took Japanese classes from former DMACC Professor Yoshiko Swift prior to the trip. She said they learned a basic set of words, numbers and customs. While in Japan, they found the Google Translator app to be an extremely helpful tool to help with communication when the language barrier proved difficult.
Student Kim Meyer with students from the Yamanashi Dental Hygiene College in Kofu.
“Yoshiko did a good job preparing us for what we were to experience. A smile is the universal language,” said Bradshaw. “They know a lot more English that we know Japanese.”
Bradshaw, Meyer and Kollasch were able to take part in many Japanese activities such as pottery making, flower arranging, site seeing and origami.
“One of my favorites was the flower arranging,” said Bradshaw. “They put so much meaning into everything. They will explain that this is the tallest one to represent the heavens. They find so much beauty in everything.”
Bradshaw said she also enjoyed going to the top of the 2080 foot Tokyo Skytree, the largest tower in the world. She said it had a glass floor, tremendous views of the entire city of Tokyo and you could even see Mount Fuji, 80 miles away.
Bradshaw said another unique experience was going to an onsen, or a Japanese hot springs.
The exchange happens each year. In September of the even year, one instructor and two students from the Yamanashi Dental Hygiene College will come to Iowa. In the following year, one instructor and two DMACC students will go over in May.
“I literally cried at the farewell party,” said Bradshaw. “They kept giving us more and more gifts. They treated us like royalty. The people were the best part of the entire trip.”
The students are recognized during a special ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the exchange between DMACC and the Yamanashi Dental Hygiene College (YDHC). This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the YDHC. DMACC had just celebrated its 50th anniversary.
[Read dental student Kim Meyer's experience]