The Japan Summer Service-Learning Program (JSSL) is a collaborative, intercultural service-learning program that brings together undergraduates from Middlebury, International Christian University (ICU), and multiple member universities of the Service-Learning Asia Network.

Summer 2022:

At this time because of border restrictions, we don’t think Middlebury students will be able to participate in JSSL for Summer 2022. If this status changes we will update this website with program details. Check back in May 2022 to see if we’ll be able to provide JSSL this summer.

The Japan Summer Service-Learning (JSSL) program is a collaboration among the Service Learning Center at the International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka, Japan, the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement (CCE), and the Middlebury College School in Japan.

Over summer 2021, JSSL was offered as a part-time remote program, bringing together four Middlebury College undergraduate students, six students from ICU, and ten (total) students from Service-Learning Asia Network partner universities: Assumption University (Thailand), Silliman University (the Philippines,) Union Christian College (India), Lady Doak College (India), and Petra Christian University (Indonesia). The overarching theme for summer 2021 focused on considering and addressing social challenges across urban and rural contexts - and how the geographic and cultural contexts inform response.


Students who participated in JSSL over the summer of 2021 will later join inter-institutional teams (based on interest and language skills) to collaborate on multiple service-learning projects - some of them in collaboration with Japan-based community partners; and some with organizations located in the communities local to other partnering institutions (Indonesia, India, the US, the Philippines, and/or Thailand).

This will be an approximate 55-hour program (in total) – with some preliminary activities happening in May, and the most intensive project work happening in June and July. The schedule of synchronous activities will include some early-morning or evening work – depending on your time zone in those months.

Middlebury applicants are required to have one-year of Japanese language study (or an equivalent skill level) to participate. Those accepted to participate will receive a $665 stipend upon completion of the program.

JSSL is a collaborative program of the Service Learning Center at International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka, Japan, the Middlebury College School in Japan, Middlebury’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), and Middlebury’s Japanese Studies Department.


At this time because of border restrictions we don’t think Middlebury students will be able to participate in JSSL for Summer 2022, if the status changes we will update this website with program details.

You can view last year’s application here: JSSL 2021 Application

The deadline to apply is generally in mid-March. Applicants will conduct an interview scheduled the week after the application deadline. Acceptance decisions will be made by the end of March.

Completed applications should be emailed to Kristen Mullins at kmullins Please also feel free to reach out to Kristen with any questions.

How It Works

The program has four primary phases.


This includes the general aspects one might expect of any program:

  • Recognizing, exploring, and establishing goals
  • Sharing and addressing concerns and challenges
  • Establishing group guidelines and agreements
  • Providing the information and resources necessary to the health and safety of all involved

As a service-learning program, the orientation also includes community and cultural introductions. Students are introduced to the demographics and current and historical contexts of the communities in which they will be working. Core principles and practices of community engagement and service-learning are both incorporated and discussed:

  • Reciprocity
  • Community collaboration
  • Ethical and competent communication
  • Learning about the communities with which we will be working
  • The experiential learning cycle
  • The importance of reflection to deepen, expand upon, and integrate the learning

Elements of intercultural competence—such as communication, self-awareness, knowledge of other cultures, postponing evaluation, and perspective-taking—are introduced, explored, and experienced throughout the program. These explorations begin during the orientation phase and continue throughout all phases and activities.

Service and Learning in Mitaka

These activities with local community collaborators have included the following:

  • Classroom programming in local elementary schools
  • Volunteering at elderly day care facilities
  • Working with community farms and environmental programs

Service and Learning in Tenryumura

One notable aspect of life in the Village of Tenryumura in Nagano Prefecture, in addition to being a rural mountain village with one of the highest rates of depopulation in Japan, is its challenging and complex history during and before World War II—and how the residents have coped with the war memories over time.

NEW as of summer 2021: Service and Learning in Partner Institution Communities

These project opportunities are currently under development. Summer 2021 participants will be engaged in finalizing as well as implementing project plans.

Wrap-up and Evaluation

This includes a closing presentation to which all community collaborators are invited. It’s also a time to say goodbye as a group.

What Participants Have to Say

Hear from recent program participants on our blog.


Email Kristen Mullins at

Center for Community Engagement
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753