From her first semester at William and Mary, Sara Caudill threw herself into the study of Japan. “I had wanted to study language for many years before college,” she recalls. “I lobbied for on-line course in high school, but it didn’t happen. William and Mary gave me the opportunity.” Sara has since taken full advantage of the many opportunities for Japanese study here, and now, as she graduates, the Japanese section is proud to award Sara the 2012 Japanese Book Prize.
In addition to language, Sara took a course on Japanese society with Professor Tomoko Hamada-Connelly in that first semester. The following year, she enrolled in Gross National Cool with Professor Rachel DiNitto. For her final project in that class, she brought a new critical eye to an old interest, analyzing the ‘cultural odorlessness’ of Pokemon. Other courses included Professor Eric Han’s East Asia History Surveys and language classes with Aiko Kitamura and Tomoko Katō.
In 2011, Sara headed to Hikone in western Japan for a semester, but her studies were interrupted by the catastrophic earthquake that struck northeast Japan on March 11. Fortunately, Hikone was relatively unaffected by the disaster, and the crisis helped Sara identify the issue to which she now plans to devote her career. “I developed a new environmental consciousness,” she says. “I arrived in Japan wanting to do one thing, and I left wanting to do another.” Now, she says, she is “on a trajectory of interest in sustained development in Southeast Asia.”
Sara began exploring this new interest last semester, in a special seminar on the 3/11 disaster. In April, she presented her research at a student conference, After the Quake: Japan Responds, on April 15th. The title of her paper: “Violent Rebirth: The Path to a Green Economic Recovery in Post-Fukushima Japan.”
The next step will be a stay in South Korea, where Sara will teach English and explore the region for one year, before returning to America for graduate study, where, she plans to focus on “clean energy development and environmental social justice in Southeast Asia.” The Japanese section wishes Sara luck as she moves forward and congratulates her on this well-deserved award.