Way back in 1903, Rihachi Mizuno witnessed a game of baseball and made it his mission to spread the game to all of Japan. The company was grown, globalized, and leadership was passed down through generations. Currently, Akito Mizuno, a fellow Titan, holds the title of President.
Mr. Mizuno, wishing to improve his English skills, decided to go to university in the United States. He decided that the Midwest would be the best place to do so and thus ended up at Illinois Wesleyan University. He had never seen the campus before his first day at IWU and had a low level of English. It would take him hours to read just one page of his English textbooks. He admitted he did not sleep much since he had to work so much harder than all of the native English speakers.
Mr. Mizuno shared this and many other stories with Sean, me, and our supervisors last week over lunch in the Mizuno Headquarters. We shared stories of Illinois Wesleyan and compared our experiences across time. We talked about Wesleyan athletics and the various building that have been built and knocked down since his graduation. We talked about Bloomington-Normal and how it has grown and changed (did you known that Normal used to be a dry city? I didn’t either.) He still wears his Sigma Pi ring. The conversation went beyond just Wesleyan and the surrounding area. He told us stories from his adventures backpacking around Europe as a young adult and we even got the Japanese view on the current American political situation.
It was pretty amazing that the president of a global company even took the time to have lunch with two college students interning with his company, let alone have very genuine and interesting conversation with us. The nervousness I felt going into lunch quickly faded away as I realized that he was a very down to earth man that has some great stories to tell.
It is interesting to think about the string of events that had to happen for me to get the oppurtunity to live and intern in Japan for six weeks. I am very grateful that Rihachi Mizuno witnessed that baseball game, Akito Mizuno happened to attend Illinois Wesleyan, Professor Teddy Amaloza decided to be an amazing person and orchestrate the IWU Freeman Asia Internship program and convince Mr. Mizuno to allow two interns to come to his company.