Why Asian Studies?
My first major at Saint Ben’s was theology, so my initial pursuit of Asian studies did not have a direct academic focus. I had taken a few Japanese language courses in high school, and decided to pursue a Japanese minor at Saint Ben’s. When my junior year approached, I committed to a semester abroad and travelled to India to study economics and sociology at St. Xavier’s University in Kolkata. As a result, a lot of Asian studies courses fell into my lap in very relational, communal, and experiential learning environments. Thus I decided to add Asian studies as my second major after having cultivated many meaningful friendships and having found a home in the international frame in which Asian studies had oriented my life.
Some of the courses that I enjoyed the most were history classes with Dr. Bohr. I had spent much time studying Japanese language and Indian culture, and most of my Asian studies courses had focused heavily on language, literature, sociology, and economics. As such, it was immensely refreshing to approach Asian studies from a historical angle. Both historic and contemporary Asia were visually alive and embodied in my linguistic and travel pursuits, and to have a greater understanding of historical context offered me a meaningful perspective with which to navigate my modern experiences of Asia.
What am I up to these days?
After I graduated from Saint Ben’s, I was connected to an employment opportunity through the Teaching in Asia initiative at CSB/SJU, and moved to Japan to teach English at a small conversation school in the countryside. I had a wildly adventurous year riding my bicycle among the rice paddies, and found myself living in community with a myriad of Japanese families and students in my town. When that first year concluded, I knew that I wanted to continue to grow those relationships. I decided to relocate to a city to explore new teaching opportunities and experience a different side of Japan.
At present, I am living in Osaka, where I work at an international preschool and kindergarten as an English immersion teacher. I teach in a classroom of Japanese toddlers, so my students are ages 2-3 (a very fascinating age to observe and participate in language development!). Because my particular group of students is so young, I co-teach alongside two other Japanese speakers of English, which has been a wonderful mediator of cultural learning and exchange as I navigate life in a foreign country. Because I am an English speaker, I have the privilege of going and seeking opportunities anywhere in the world. It's really exciting to be working in an environment where I can offer others that same possibility.
I also visited with the current study abroad cohort in Kyoto, and am excited to stay connected with Bennies and Johnnies here in Japan!