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Coming to America

One day last January, a Japanese businessman walked into Kathy Hammett’s office in the Gallagher Student Center and, after a brief conversation, pledged a contribution of $500.

When the check arrived a few days later, Hammett, director for international student services, was floored. She said the donation was “a fabulous opportunity.” But she didn’t know this man. He was not a Xavier graduate. And she hadn’t asked him for money. But to Scott Hayashi, his gesture was perfectly logical. He wanted to help an American student studying at Sophia University, a Jesuit school in Tokyo. You see, he explained, he’d been a student at Sophia many years ago and was forever changed by the black-robed Jesuits whose spirituality had touched him. Besides, it made up for his past behavior when as a college student he used to pester American servicemen and tourists in Tokyo by practicing his English on them until they became angry.

“When I was young, I thought Americans had an obligation to help me,” Hayashi says. “But now I think it’s far more important to help Americans go to Japan and learn the language and come back to the U.S. and help build stronger friendships.”

Now a sales director for an auto parts supplier in Detroit, he’s been in the U.S. about 25 years. He often stops by Xavier on his trips to the Toyota plant in Northern Kentucky to walk the quiet campus and meditate in Bellarmine Chapel. He’s since written a second $500 check and plans to continue the donations, which have been placed in a fund that supports Xavier students studying at Sophia.

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