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
  • 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)
  • 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)

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