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Nine Utah Valley Community College students are now in a Japanese resort community building American-style homes.

The students, under the direction of building construction instructor Henry Davis, are working in Takasaki, which is about 125 miles north of Tokyo.A.V. Japan, a Japanese import-export company, is sponsoring the project - their marketing concept is "American-style homes, built by Americans." The 1,600-square-foot buildings will each sell for about $250,000.

"This is a great opportunity for the students to gain practical experience building homes," Davis said. "The chance to build homes from the ground up, especially in Japan, is the most valuable part of our program."

Before this project, school instructors helped students construct houses at the campus, but students did not receive any pay.

According to the college, the students will receive a salary of about $2,000 per month plus room and board. "The students are being paid well; however, they will be working 10 hours per day, six days per week," said Davis. "On top of the working hours, the students will be taking a three-hour house framing class.

"Presently, A.V. Japan is constructing prefabricated homes, but we will be able to construct a better-quality home in less time. The only difference in the construction phase will be the use of the metric system," he said.

Davis said the students' experience with American techniques allows them to construct the buildings faster than their Japanese counterparts. The homes will be two stories - about the size of typical U.S. homes.

During their three months in Japan, the students will build two homes for the company. School officials hope that the project will lead to further cooperation and a new group will replace the one that returns. If all goes well, the exchange program could last for 10 years.

College officials say the exchange is part of the school's continuing emphasis on an international perspective.

"Rapid growth in the global economy offers us the chance to offer opportunities to students in foreign countries through a cooperative education approach," said Carl Johns, director of UVCC's cooperative education department.

"UVCC has a unique potential for helping students gain experiences internationally. We not only have one of the finest community college cooperative education programs in the country (the program places more than 1,000 students with nearly 400 employers each year), but also a large percentage of our students have lived in foreign countries and speak a foreign language."