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Fujinawa takes on America
Erik Swazo
JMC 215
Photo by Erik Swazo
Kazuhiro Fujinawa (left) and partner Bruce Zurek practice their grappling during wrestling practice.
Kazuhiro Fujinawa

UNK international student and junior wrestler Kazuhiro Fujinawa came from Japan and made his way to UNK to pursue his aspiration to continue his wrestling career.

Funny thing is, this wasn’t his first time coming to Kearney. Fujinawa first came over to America in 2005 to check out Kearney, stayed for four months, ended up liking it and then made the decision to stay in Kearney and enroll in school.

Making the transition for any international student is always difficult, but for Fujinawa, being a part of the UNK wrestling team made his transition a bit easier than normal.

“Having teammates older than me helped me out because they helped with some translations when someone was talking to me and I didn’t understand what they were saying,” Fujinawa said. Another thing that Fujinawa has had to deal with is the culture.  He said dealing with some of the different cultures has been hard to get used to. “People here are more outgoing compared to where I am originally from. They speak their mind about a lot of things, and I just sit back and observe,” Fujinawa said.

As an international student, he hasn’t quite had all the same experiences as a normal student would have. He hasn’t lived in the dorms and managed the full college experience. “My first house was a rental where I lived by myself, but now I have moved to another rental near campus,” Fujinawa said. The process for gaining a roommate at his second house could be compared to a dorm selection. He filled out the application and was randomly put with another international student who now lives with him.

Wrestling kept Fujinawa very busy while attending school. “Most of the time I am concentrating on my schoolwork, and I also have to balance wrestling with the homework as well,” Fujinawa said.

Fujinawa and the wrestling team helped out with a haunted house this year and are partnering with the YRTC here in Kearney.  “Team activities are always something that I enjoy taking part in,” Fujinawa said.

Fujinawa doesn’t know when he will make it back home to Japan, partly because it is a 15-hour trip.  He plans on staying here and focusing on finishing up his last two years.  “The one thing that I miss most is my mom’s home cooked meals; she is a great cook,” Fujinawa said.



Kitakyushu, Japan

Founded: Feb. 10, 1963
Population: Jan. 1, 2010: 983,037
Midpoint between Tokyo and Shanghai


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