Alumni Updates: Japanese

  • “Shun” and Japanese Cuisine American chefs and gourmands have recently rediscovered seasonality and locality —eating and celebrating the ingredients specific to the season and region.  In Japan these notions never faded from the cultural imagination. On November 4, the college community was treated to a fascinating lecture on the significance of “shun,” or “seasonality” to Japanese cuisine, and the special cuisine of the Akita region, presented by Dr. Yosuke Hashimoto, a professor at our partner institution, Akita International University. With its clearly differentiated seasons, Akita enjoys a variety of delicious foodstuffs, each with its high season.  And to survive through its long winter, the region developed various fermented foods, including the prototype of modern sushi-rice. Dr. Hashimoto accompanied his talk with mouthwatering photos of seasonal and local specialties, and samples of Japanese sembei rice crackers and tea. On the following day, Dr. Hashimoto prepared several local Akita specialities together with the residents of Japanese House, the language-immersion residence hall in Preston Hall, including soup, hot-pot, and perhaps Akita’s most representative dish, kiritanpo—mashed rice shaped around skewers, toasted, and served with sweetened miso paste. Both events were organized as extensions of Tomoko Kato’s course on “Washoku,” or Japanese traditional cuisine, taught in Japanese. As you can see from the photos, it all made for a very convivial evening!   students making kiritanpo J house food 3 J house food 2 J house food 1
  • A Dream-like Experience in Japan "I had a wonderful time in Japan," Kenneth Li answered every time someone asked about his time during the summer break. Now when he reflects on that experience, everything seems to be scenes in a dream. Every morning and evening, Kenneth rode a bike along the gorgeous Biwa Lake to commute between school and his gracious host family. Although the cla3) Li photo No.1ss moved at a fast pace, he could easily practice what he had just learned with Japanese people around him, so he made significant progress. Upon returning to the host family in the evenings, Kenneth talked about what he had learned at school and saw firsthand how the knowledge in the book corresponded with the daily life of a Japanese family. During weekends, Kenneth’s friends traveled with him around Japan an3) Li photo No.2d observed the variety of Japanese culture in different places. Since a lot of Japanese festivals are held in the summer, they were fortunate to experience such events as Gion Matsuri and Hanabi Taikai. Kenneth highly recommends this program to those who seek to advance their Japanese in a short time while exploring Japan and also having a wonderful experience of full immersion into Japanese culture.    
  • A Very Special Guest The Spring 2019 semester brought an esteemed visitor to campus, and an opportunity to think more deeply about Japan’s nuclear history and its unique role in shaping our global nuclear future.  Setsuko Thurlow is a hibakusha--a survivor of the 1945 atom bombs. She was a 13-year-old schoolgirl living in Hiroshima when that city was destroyed, at the end of World War II. She has spent the seven decades since testifying to the horror of nuclear weapons and campaigning for a world free of them. Ms. Thurlow has recounted her experience of that day to countless groups of children and adults.  She has also spoken powerfully in support of nuclear disarmament to world leaders and diplomats at global conferences, the UN, and other venues.  This activism resulted in the passage, in 2017, of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Ms. Thurlow has been honored by many groups for her tireless work in the advancement of peace. The City of Hiroshima named her a peace ambassador in 2014. the Arms Control Association named her “arms control person of the year” for 2015. And, in December 2017, together with two other hibakusha, Ms. Thurlow accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). She visited campus as one of the featured visitors for the Spring 2019 on-campus COLL 300, which addressed the theme of “Ceremony.” Ms. Thurlow visited several COLL 300 classes and gave a major address at the Sadler Center, where she spoke about her lifetime of testimony, the role of ceremony in her life and work, and her hopes for younger generations. Ms. Thurlow’s visit was a kind of homecoming.  In 1954, after graduating from Hiroshima Jogakuin University, she came to Virginia to study sociology at Lynchburg College, before moving to Canada, where she obtained her master's degree in social work at the University of Toronto. The Japanese Program was honored to host a dinner for Ms. Thurlow, where faculty and students had the opportunity to speak with her more informally, and to hear more about her remarkable life and her important work.  Thanks to all who helped to make her visit possible and, in particular, to the Center for Liberal Arts for inviting Mrs. Thurlow. cropPhto-Setsuko  
  • Berman, Michael (’05) Michael Berman '05 is in the master's program of social sciences at the University of Chicago. (2007)
  • Bubb, Chris (Class of 2010) (BA Global & East Asian Studies): In the fall, Chris will be heading to Shika, Ishikawa, Japan to teach English in Junior High and Elementary schools.(Updated 2010)
  • Crandol, Mike (’07) Mike Crandol '07 is currently in University of Minnesota's Ph.D. program in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media, and attended Stanford University's InterUniversity Center Japanese language program in Yokohama Japan 2009-2010. Mike is working on Nakagawa Nobuo, a horror-movie director from the 1950s and 60s who influenced the J-Horror boom. He has also written reviews of Asian entertainment on YesAsia.com. (2011)
  • Davy, Jenny (’08) Jenny Davy '08 did a year of study abroad in Tokyo at Keio University. She went on to a two-year course of study at the Cooperstown Graduate Program doing a Master of Arts degree in History Museum Studies. (2008)
  • DeMars, Jeff (’11) Jeff DeMars '11 started a job at the Japan Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C.  He is working as the Webmaster/Office Manager for the JICC and is really enjoying working with everyone, planning events, and updating the website. (2011)
  • Give AIU a try: It’ll be an experience you won’t forget! Hayden Hubbard, Class of 2019. There’s really no place like AIU. On my way to northern, rural Japan, I’m not sure what I expected, but it was nothing like what I found―a diverse student body, a great group of friends and awesome surroundings.  Probably one of my most rewarding experiences was as a tutor at the AAC, the Academic Achievement Center. As I tutored my students in English academic writing and reading, I also had the opportunity to learn about a vast array of different topics, from peer pressure in academia to fashion in Shinjuku. Working with the other AIU tutors, seeing the students learn, and watching their writing and confidence improve were the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. As I taught, I realized that it was something I wanted to pursue, not only as a one-time experience but as a career. Tutoring Japanese students was something I only could have done at AIU, as was visiting local schools, talking with Japanese students, trekking across Akita’s mountains or watching the Kamakura festival in Akita City. My time at AIU was full of one-time-only experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And because of this, I’m now pursuing teaching English in Japan with JET in the fall of 2019. _cropGive AIU a try- Itll be an experience you wont forget!
  • Gotta JET! JET 1 (1)Last summer several graduating seniors jetted off to Japan—in order to become  “JETs.”  The Japan Exchange and Teaching, or JET, Program was established by the Japanese government in 1987 to “promote grass-roots exchange between Japan and other nations.” The Department of Education selects college grads from around the world to teach English in Japan for a year or more at kindergartens, and elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools. It’s a great opportunity for graduates interested in Japan to go there with the full support of the Japanese government, which trains participants, places them, and provides housing and a comfortable stipend. About 4,000 graduates participate in the program each year, with about 2,300 of those coming from the U.S. Applicants for this prestigious program go through a careful selection process, and this past year, William & Mary students had remarkable success. Five of our 2015 graduates will become JETs: Isabel Bush, Andrew Kim, Michael Le, Jack Powers, and Mark Zuschlag. We spoke to a few of them about their plans. Isabel is graduating with a self-designed major in Japanese Studies.  She describes the JET program as “the most logical career choice” for her. At the College, Isabel studied three years of Japanese language and took at least one other course related to Japan each semester. She also spent two summers conducting independent research on Japanese history and culture through the Charles Center. “I was able to do an internship with the Japan-US Friendship Commission during my junior year, and being part of an organization that helped foster exchange between academics, governments, and students and individuals of all ages really changed how I look at Japan and the US. I want to be an active part of that exchange, and teaching English while I work on my own language skills seems like the perfect way to do it.” Isabel hopes to improve both her language and professional skills while a JET. “I’m really excited to be a real part of a community in Japan, and to start putting my time at William & Mary to use in the real world!” Andrew, who graduates with a concentration in East Asian Studies in the AMES (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) Program, first heard about the JET Program from a colleague at a summer teaching program. “She was talked about the wonderful experiences she had teaching in Japan. I want to become a teacher in the future, so I decided to apply to JET in order to experience a foreign education system from a faculty position. In the five years I’ve spent here at W&M, I’ve learned so much from the wonderful teachers here in the Japanese Studies department. Under their guidance, I’ve not only developed the language skills I need to converse in Japanese, but have come to deeply appreciate Japan’s complex culture and unique history.” Andrew just learned that he’ll be teaching in the city of Takamatsu, on the island of Shikoku. “I’m ready to experience living in Japan as opposed to simply surviving,” he says. “I encourage all of you reading this to take the leap and do the same!” Michael graduates with a major in Hispanic Studies and a minor in Japanese Studies. He began taking Japanese courses, he says, “in an impulsive fit of rebellion,” and initially viewed the JET Program as an unattainable goal. But through his Modern Languages courses, he says, “I really connected with cultural-theory work that looks to understand the complexities of representations and narratives. I gained stronger analytical and linguistic skills as well as a deeper cultural sympathy beyond my own.” At that point, it was only natural for him to apply to the JET Program. He was especially drawn to its emphasis on transnational exchange at a grassroots level. Michael, too, will be teaching on Shikoku. “I expect to rigorously challenge my worldview and culturally condition myself for the life of a translator and interpreter.” If you’d like to know more about the JET Program, check out the website here, or speak to any of the Japanese Studies faculty.  Congratulations to Isabel, Andrew, Michael, Jack, and Mark!
  • Kennedy, Pam (’10) Pam Kennedy '10 is working in bank examination with the Federal Reserve Bank out in Los Angeles. Her examination team will work with many Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese banks. (2011)
  • Klaasse, Lauren (’11) Lauren Klaasse '11 is starting a graduate program in Public Policy at George Mason University. (2011)
  • Locke, Megan (’10) Megan Locke '10 is on the JET program teaching English in Japan. (2010)
  • Luebke, Peter (’05) Peter Luebke '05 is currently a student in the graduate program on Southern History in the American History Ph.D. program at University of Virginia. He has an article, “Maruo Suehiro’s ‘Planet of the Jap’: Revanchist Fantasy or War Critique?”  that he co-authored with Professor Rachel DiNitto, forthcoming in the Australian journal Japanese Studies. (2011) 
  • Marsden, Nancy (’08) Nancy Marsden '08 is a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying ethnomusicology. She's combining her East Asian Studies and Music majors from W&M into the area of Japanese music. She hopes to focus on popular music in Japan. (2009)
  • Oreska, Julian (’09) Julian Oreska '09 works as a product developer for the toy company Bandai at their headquarters in Asakusa, Japan. Julian was a double Business and East Asian Studies major who also completed the Canon Corporation internship in summer 2009. (2010)
  • Palesko, Amy (’06) Amy Palesko '06 was William & Mary's first Fulbright to Japan. She studied at the University of Osaka and is currently residing and working in Japan as a design engineer at Nokia. (2008)
  • Revere, Nathan (’10) Nathan Revere '10 is doing graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison in their Anthropology Ph.D. program, focusing on language and culture in Japan. (2011)
  • Scott, Loretta (’10) Loretta Scott '10 is currently working in NYC in marketing/business development. She started a Youtube series called "The Difficulties of Japanese" in 2007, and was eventually contacted by YesJapan Corporation, which provides real-world and online courses for Japanese langauge learning. She's now contracted as a video producer, and creates youtube-style education videos for their website www.yesjapan.com ! (2011)
  • Senior Profile: Giselle Jernigan (Chinese Studies major & Japanese Studies minor ’19) Giselle Jernigan has a major in Chinese and a minor Japanese.  She transferred to W&M her junior year and upon entering the Chinese department, quickly felt the encouragement of the language professors, who work so closely with their students to enhance their language skills, and the fellow culture professors, who invoke the connections between Chinese history, society, and language.  She is grateful for all the intimate, supportive talks and understanding from her language professors, which helped her overcome the difficulties that any student inevitably feels in their language journey.  Her best memories are from studying abroad in Beijing with fellow W&M Chinese students and experiencing first-hand the language and culture they had been studying.  Even in China, they carried the Tribe spirit and supported each other in what could be a rough but adventurous time.  Giselle will be studying abroad in Taiwan this summer and hopes to find a translation or tutoring job thereafter. Giselle Jernigan crop
  • Senior Profile: Hayley Snowden (Japanese Studies ’19) The highlight of my 4 years at William & Mary was my study abroad at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, which was only possible with the guidance and instruction of the fantastic faculty of the Japanese Studies department. I’ll never forget traveling 5 hours with friends from around the world to see Mount Fuji encircled by thousands of flowers in bloom, or kayaking through quiet canals to see the city bathed in the light from Tokyo Skytree. I intend to take my wonderful memories of Japan with me as I pursue a career in advertising, and as I prepare to travel to New York this summer to be McCann Worldgroup’s Global Strategy Intern. I am so thankful for the time and effort that my professors invested in me, and I fully intend on bringing their teachings with me as I continue to build a global business perspective. Snowden crop

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