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Peachtree runner comes from Japan to celebrate new student exchange

Monday, June 28, 2010 – Ann Claycombe

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Runners come from all over the world for Atlanta’s AJC Peachtree Road Race, held each year on July 4. This year, one of the fastest has come perhaps the farthest to celebrate a new student exchange between Georgia State University and his home institution, Soka University in Japan.

GSU’s Asian Studies Center invited Noriaki Fukushima and his coach, Yoshiichi Oda, to come to Atlanta for the race. Fukushima is a member of Soka’s Ekiden, or long-distance relay, team, and recently ran anchor for an all-star team at the Hakone Ekiden, one of the sport’s premiere events.

The Atlanta Track Club has formally recognized Fukushima’s personal record in the 10K (29:46.78). He will start with the top-seeded starters among the race’s 55,000 participants.

Fukushima and Oda will be in Atlanta from July 1 to 5. In addition to participating in the road race, the pair will meet faculty and others at Georgia State and will attend a Braves game.

Their visit commemorates the upcoming signing of an exchange agreement between Georgia State and Soka University, a private university located in Hachioji, which is a suburb of Tokyo, Japan.

Soka University was founded in 1971 to provide a flexible, humanistic education that allows its students to become creative citizens in a global culture. The director of the exchange program, Mizuki Mazzotta, is a Soka alumna and an instructor in Georgia State’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

Noriaki Fukushima gets encouragement from the fans during a race in Japan.