- Elizabeth Wiseman (BMC '13)
Starting in high school with an interest in Japanese history and culture, my language studies have led me on a journey through college to where I am now: a senior linguistics major writing a thesis on Japanese onomatopoeia. I could not have asked for more talented or dedicated professors during my studies at Haverford; the Japanese professors here truly invest their time and their energy into helping you reach your individualized goals. Likewise, my yearlong study abroad experience in Tokyo taught me to view the world with new eyes, and I am truly appreciative for that extraordinary growth experience that would not have been possible within the Bi-College. Even now, as I am taking Business Japanese and searching for jobs that would allow me to return to Tokyo, I cannot express enough the gratitude and appreciation I feel towards the entire Japanese Department for the extraordinary amount of personal attention they have shown me over the years; I would not be quite the same person without it today.
- Miranda Liu (BMC '12) graduated magna cum laude with Honors in East Asian Studies and in her second major, an Independent Major in Dance. Having focused her Asian studies on Chinese and Japanese art and literary history, she wrote her thesis on popular literature of the Edo period. During her undergraduate years, she was thrilled to spend a semester studying at Temple University, Japan Campus, located in Tokyo, where she was granted the opportunity to tutor Japanese students. Her love of Japan and interest in teaching lead her to apply for and be accepted to the highly selective Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. She now lives in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture where she teaches English at both the junior high and elementary levels. She enjoys her job working as an assistant to the English teachers in junior high school and planning and executing her own lessons to introduce English to her elementary school students. She posts regularly about her experiences at: http://jetsetjoshu.wordpress.com/
- Isaac Lutze, HC '08
This is my fifth and final year as an assistant language teacher on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program(JET) in Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture. I love teaching in junior high and elementary school, and I have learned so much from the kind teachers and amazing students with whom I have worked. I have also been able to further pursue my study of Japanese, to explore the beautiful mountains and valleys of Yamagata, and to take part in many community activities.
One of the biggest events in Kaminoyama is the 400-year-old Kasedori festival, held each year in February as a prayer for a bountiful harvest. Wearing only a conical straw coat called a kendai, the participants sing and dance in the snow as townspeople douse us with freezing water. Many local people become Kasedori, but some participants come from as far away as Hokkaido and Saga. We roam through the streets of the town, pausing at local businesses to dance in front of the small crowds that form. Some people pull a straw from our kendai as a charm to protect their houses from fire, and some tie towels to them as an offering. My students’ eyes go wide with surprise when they recognize me, and they smile as they throw even more water. At the end of the day, we soak our frozen bodies in the heavenly hot spring baths and talk. Most of the out-of-town members see each other only once a year on this day, so we have a lot to catch up on.
My time in Japan has been a bit like this festival: brief, but full of wonderful friends whom I could only have met here and now; sometimes hard, but full of laughter and excitement. I am so lucky to have had the chance to be here, and I feel grateful every day for the Japanese language that makes my life here possible.