Alumni Updates: Japanese

  • 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!
  • J Studies Celebrates New Major’s Second Cohort The 2021 graduates of William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program celebrated their academic achievements during a virtual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 21. They marked this milestone with their peers, William & Mary faculty and staff, and thirty guests, including family and friends. The graduates—Bobbi Joe Carwile, Caleb Rivers, Jackson Lawson, Reese Willis, Jin Lee, Campbell Wharton, Ben Ryan, and Kayla Zanders—represent the second cohort of students in the major. In addition to eight students in the major, William & Mary also honored three students in the minor: Amber Blanton, Anna Ledwin, and Kate Lucas.
    Japanese Studies on-line graduation attendees

    Japanese Studies on-line graduation attendees

    Ms. Tomoko Nakamura, Second Secretary at the Embassy of Japan to the United States of America, in Washington, D.C., served as the ceremony's guest speaker. Nakamura commended the students for becoming part of the bridge between two countries. By embarking on the journey to learn the language and culture of Japan, the graduates are poised for greater job opportunities. The lessons the students learned at William & Mary have allowed them to better understand the similarities and differences between their culture, Japanese culture, and many others around the globe. As globally minded citizens, they are ready to navigate today’s interconnected world.
    2021 Kinyo Awardees (clockwise from top left): Ben Bowles. (100 level), Ryleigh Line (200), Ana Ledwin (400), and Ryujin Barlow (300)

    2021 Kinyo Awardees (clockwise from top left): Ben Bowles. (100 level), Ryleigh Line (200), Ana Ledwin (400), and Ryujin Barlow (300)

    The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students' academic excellence during the ceremony. Jackson Lawson received the Book Award. Kinyo Awards recipients included Ben Bowles. (Japanese 100 level), Ryleigh Line (Japanese 200 level), Ryujin Barlow (Japanese 300 level), and Ana Ledwin (Japanese 400 level). Jackson Lawson, Kayla Zanders, Bobbi Joe Carwile, and Kelly Shea were inducted into the Japanese Honor Society. Dr. Michael Cronin, William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, commended the students for their hard work and resilience during such a challenging time, sharing that he learned great lessons from their ability to adapt to change. Noting that few students come to college with significant training in Japanese language, he was happy to see such great success in the students as they discovered something new after arriving at William & Mary. We extend congratulations to the Class of 2021, wishing them a successful and prosperous future.
  • Japanese Studies Book Prize 2021 Congratulations to Jackson Lawson, the recipient of the 2021  Modern Languages and Literatures Book Prize in Japanese Studies!
    Jackson Lawson, 300 level

    Jackson Lawson, 300 level

    During his time at William & Mary, Jackson built meaningful relationships with faculty and his peers, and he credits his professors and the lessons he learned in history and culture classes for helping him to foster a more holistic understanding of Japan. The 22-year-old turned his focus to adulthood in Japan for his senior thesis. Using approaches from ethnographic studies, Jackson examined how modern Japanese youth are straying away from the old standards that mark the arrival of adulthood, such as securing full-time employment, marriage, and childhood. Instead, they define adulthood by their individual actions and responsibility. Jackson’s ardent interest in Japanese language and culture is apparent as his dedication to Japanese studies extended beyond his classwork. He often studied the language during his downtime and even completed a flashcard deck of nearly 10,000 words in Japanese! He eagerly anticipates in-person experiences with the culture this fall with a study abroad program in Osaka and looks forward to teaching English in Japan and entering other areas of education, U.S. Foreign Service, and other Japan-related fields. We congratulate Jackson on his accomplishments and wish him the best in his future endeavors.  
  • Japanese Studies Celebrates First Majors! William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program proudly honored the first cohort of students in its new major, as well as other students who have exhibited exceptional academic excellence, during a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16.  The students celebrated their milestones with peers, William & Mary faculty, and 35 guests, including included family and friends. Mr. Yosuke Sato, the First Secretary, Public Affairs Section, of the Embassy of Japan in the United States, served as the guest speaker for the hour-long program. Mr. Sato implored students not to rush through life but to remain steadfast as they pursue success. He drew inspiration from the legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Best known for Great Wave, Hokusai spoke of his devotion to creating since childhood and proclaimed that he would continue to do so even if he lived well past 100 years old. Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, the Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, also enjoyed the distinct honor of addressing the graduating class. He commended them for their dedication to developing extreme competency in the language and deeply insightful knowledge of the culture. He also assured the students that their mastery of the subject matter and appreciation for the complex lessons learned will greatly benefit them—no matter the career path they choose. The graduates— Margot Baden, Allison Bolton, Sarah Wilkowske, and Julia Wright—offered commentary about their experiences in the program followed by remarks from Japanese Studies faculty Dr. Michael Cronin, Tomoko Kato,  Aiko Kitamura, and Rina Okada. The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students' academic excellence during the ceremony. Honorees included Book Award recipient and honor student Margot Baden and honor students Allison Bolton and Julia Wright. Kinyo Awards were given to freshman Grace Liscomb, sophomore Gokul Achayaraj, junior Jackson Lawson, and senior Julia Wright. We extend heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed graduates and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.  
    Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom

    Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom

    Program Director Sasaki

    Program Director Sasaki

     
  • 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)
  • Victoria Park Garners MLL Japanese Book Prize Victoria Park is a former Global Studies major at the College of William & Mary with a concentration in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Although born and reared in the United States, she was often exposed to different news stories as she was growing up as well as to media in which she heard discussions about the historically contentious relationship between Korea and Japan. As she increasingly became intrigued by what she was hearing, Ms. Park decided to learn more about the relationship between those two nations. She not only furthered her knowledge of Japan and its history through William & Mary's Japanese language courses, but she also took classes that allowed her to understand more fPhto-Book prizeully the country's historical, political, and cultural background. In the future, she hopes to utilize her skills and knowledge of both countries to assist in mending the strained relations between those two nations.
  • Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt in Conversation The Japanese Program celebrated Homecoming 2020 by hosting a conversation with alumnus Yuri Lowenthal ('93) and Tara Platt, two of the most in-demand voice actors for anime and electronic games. Lowenthal graduated from W&M with a degree in East Asian Studies, having spent his junior year on a study-abroad program in Japan. After graduating, he returned to Japan on the JET Program before finding his calling as a voice actor. He has worked on English-language releases of some of the most popular anime series, Naruto, in which he voiced Sasuke, as well as Gurren LagannCode Geass, and Persona 4. His partner, Tara Platt, is also a highly successful actor, having voiced characters from Naruto, Sailor Moon, and more. Together, they also run a production company, Monkey Kingdom Productions, which has produced several films and a live-action web series. And they have co-authored the book Voice-Over Voice Actor (Buy Bot Press). The event, held over Zoom, drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 50 students, faculty, and members of the wider community, who spoke with Yuri and Tara for an hour and a half. Our guests recalled how they discovered their career paths, shared their experiences in that world, and advised students on pursuing voice work. Asked about the JET Program, through which the Japanese government hires college graduates from foreign countries to teach English in public schools, Yuri called it, “one of the greatest experiences of my life,” adding: “when you’re an actor, all your choices, and all your life-paths, and all of the things you’ve done make you that actor who is different from every other person who is trying to do what you’re doing. So, I think you should embrace any broad swath of experiences that life offers you.” Students were thrilled to meet the talented actors behind many of their favorite characters. One student asked about voicing unlikeable characters. Tara responded, “I’ve played reprehensible characters before … but I’ve had a lot of fun doing them!” and continued, “I wouldn’t hang out with some of my characters, but I can enjoy playing them.” Yuri agreed: “Sasuke’s a downer! I am the opposite of Sasuke in most ways, but I love playing him because it forces me to dig deep and exorcise some of my demons!” The Homecoming event was made possible through the generosity of the “Saigo-san” Fund. The Japanese Program looks forwarding to inviting Yuri and Tara back soon!    

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