Nick Palermo (Major in Business, Minor in Japanese, '15)
My experience as an undergraduate Japanese minor at WashU was an excellent complement to my studies as a business major. In addition to providing a welcome break from more quantitatively-based courses, I knew I could always count on my Japanese language classes to be a challenging, engaging and highly entertaining part of my day. After 4 years of having largely the same professors instructing me and group of students learning beside me, Japanese class was a constant for me that I truly miss in post-undergraduate life.
Japanese language class provided an excellent environment to leave the world of college behind and become immersed in a different language, culture and way of thinking. Having each day provide new challenges and content to build off of what has already been studied saw your language skills improve each day and gave important continuity to the learning process. Additionally, having a small class of students who were likely in your beginning, introductory-level classes meant a wealth of inside jokes, good stories and shared experiences across four years, made even better by skilled professors engaging with you in a personal way daily.
In addition to language classes, I took a number of other Japanese culture-related courses focusing on history and literature in both the modern and premodern eras. A highlight of my other minor coursework was two semesters of premodern Japanese in my senior year, where I was able to apply three years of language skills to reading poetry, historical accounts and fictional works from as far back as the 1200s.
Since graduation, I have realized that my Japanese minor provides a very interesting conversation topic in interviews and certainly distinguishes me from other business majors. I have been approached by coworkers across all levels at my current job for help finding financial information on Japanese companies, understanding the cultural context of communicating with Japanese clients and even doing translation work here and there. While there is always more to learn, these incidents have caused me to definitely stand out in a unique way from others in my position.
Any account of my Japanese experience would be lacking if I failed to mention the annual Japanese department sushi party―after a long year of hard work, getting together with your classmates, students from other sections and levels as well as professors to celebrate everyone’s achievements has provided me a lasting memory of the good times as I had learning more about the Japanese language and culture at WashU.
I'm currently (fall 2014) in my 2nd year of med school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and I love it! It's A LOT more studying than college, though. The only thing that comes close to the sheer volume is the number of kanji I needed to memorize for 3rd year Japanese quizzes/written exams :) I still don't know what kind of doctor I want to be, but I'm doing a mini-rotation with an OB/Gyn that I am loving right now. I love the DC area, too. This past spring I got to see the cherry blossoms down by the Jefferson Memorial and it made me so nostalgic for my time in Kyoto at KCJS. I still keep in touch with my host mother from my time studying abroad. I actually spent the summer after graduation traveling around Asia (to China and Thailand) and eventually back to Kyoto again for Gion Matsuri. I was able to stay with my host mother again, meet up with some of my host sister's friends (host sister is living in Vancouver right now), and enjoy the festival. This past summer I spent a few weeks visiting friends in Cape Town, South Africa and Istanbul. Then I spent three weeks in Nepal volunteering for a medical mission trip, on which I trekked with a group of (Nepalese and Australian) nurses and medical students from rural village to village in the foothills of the Himalaya. At each village we would set up camp, set up our mobile pharmacy, and see patients (the villagers) in our make-shift clinic. It was truly an unforgettable experience. After I take my first USMLE board exam next summer, I hope to make a return to Japan.
Shuyi Shang (studied at KCJS; IAS major '13)
The thorough Japanese language education I received at Wash U was the best and most unique part of my college experience. I was set on learning Japanese my freshman year and the first class did not disappoint. The professors wasted no time creating a full, authentic Japanese environment within the classroom, even for first-time learners. Each class was packed with new information and activities that challenged us to speak, write and interpret Japanese in the most natural way possible. The professors were clearly passionate about the language and us students, and were always tirelessly correcting our pronunciation and reminding us of the importance of cultural appropriateness. All these helped me build an excellent foundation in preparation for higher-level Japanese studies.
When I studied at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies during the second semester of my junior year, I was able to reap the benefits of my Wash U Japanese language training from day one. I felt confident speaking with Japanese people and comfortable adjusting to the new environment. The KCJS Japanese language classes were even more rigorous than what I was used to, but I gladly jumped in and kept up with no problem. My Japanese language skills allowed me to enjoy what Kyoto (and other parts of Japan!) had to offer, not to mention build wonderful relationships with the local people, particularly my host mother and my ikebana sensei, both eighty-year-old ladies who don't speak much English. I made lasting friendships with fellow students, whom I have kept in touch with. To date, I can still confidently tell you that these four short months in Japan - a new yet somehow familiar country - were the best time I've ever had.
It's no exaggeration that the Japanese program not only shaped my academic experience at Wash U (no regret trying to fit Japanese into my tight schedule almost every semester), but also sparked my interest in other aspects of Japan, such as literature, history and artisan crafts. Looking back, it was not just the teaching that made my Japanese classes so memorable. Above all, I was impacted by the genuine care the faculty showed in my academic and personal development. I always felt welcome whether I was participating in a classroom discussion or knocking on my professor's door during off-class hours. I have no doubt I will be keeping in touch with them for years to come.
In fall 2014 I am living and working in my hometown Bangkok, Thailand, a popular destination for Japanese businesses and travelers. I have met a Doshisha University alumna (that's where my study abroad classes were at) and countless other Japanese, who have commented on how natural my Japanese sounds. It's amazing how easily two people from different countries can bond over one language. Thanks to the Wash U Japanese program, I'm sure I'll have many more wonderful moments like this in my future, and hopefully in my career too! では、お元気で！
Click on the images above for a video testimonial from Phoebe Tran and Greg Rippberger, alumni of our Japanese program.
Nathan Swartz (Major in Japanese '11)
I’m so grateful for the rigorous and wide-ranging Japanese language education I received at Washington University. I started in the second half of the third year and was able to enjoy the full range of upper-level courses available to Japanese Language and Culture majors.
In the upper-level courses, small class sizes allow the professors to customize the curriculum to suit the abilities and personalities of the students in the course. There are also a variety of courses complementing the main language course progression, such as Textual Analysis, Classical Japanese, and Translation.
The study-abroad program at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS) also has excellent staff and over the school year I think my Japanese really leaped forward.
I currently work at a consulting firm that focuses exclusively on assisting the overseas operations of Japanese companies. The intense program at Washington University and its study abroad program at KCJS in Kyoto prepared me for interacting on a business level with clients.
Benjamin Trevor (Major in Japanese '08)
Before starting college, I studied French for five years, and I continued to take French classes my freshman year. But I also signed up for Japanese, for reasons I no longer really remember. After comparing the two over the course of my first year, I realized that there was no comparison. No offense to French, but the Japanese language, especially the way it is taught at WashU, fascinated me in a way that it never did.
Just in case I needed any more proof, there was an incident the summer after my freshman year during a trip to Paris. I decided to test my French skills by buying something in a shop on my own. During the conversation with the clerk, however, I got flustered, and I ended up blurting something out not in French, not in English, but in Japanese! I was more comfortable speaking the language I had studied for one year than the one I had studied for six. After that there was no question in my mind that I would stick with Japanese for the rest of my college career, and the language classes were consistently the most interesting and most fun of any I ever took.
After graduation I tried a couple of other things, but after two years I realized that I missed Japanese too much. So now I am a graduate student working on my M.A. in Japanese Pedagogy at the Ohio State University. It’s not exactly where I pictured myself ending up, but after my time in the Japanese classroom as an undergrad, I guess you could say I was hooked.
Scott Lyons ('07)
I’m pursuing a master’s degree in archaeology at Kyoto University, and while my academic career is still only just beginning, it’s clear to me that I wouldn’t have made it even this far without Washington University’s Japanese program. The classes I took as an undergrad taught me more than just grammar and vocabulary; they taught me how to behave appropriately within Japanese cultural contexts. Those skills have opened up more doors to me than my words and ideas alone could have.
The summer after my study abroad year at KCJS, I had the opportunity to train as a volunteer at an archaeological research agency in Osaka. While much of the specialized language relating to archaeology went over my head at the time and I struggled with advanced reading materials for my research, I was still able to gain invaluable experience in fieldwork, and the relationships I formed then continue to serve me well. By coincidence, my current research involves materials stored at that same agency, and despite my limited language skills as an undergrad, I apparently made a good enough impression that obtaining access to archaeological materials (and space to work on them!) was trivial this time. In this I can only credit the Washington University Japanese department and the instructors’ holistic approach to Japanese communication!
Cary Adickman ('07, B.A. Computational Linguistics)
What initially drew me to the Japanese Language Program was its unique methodology and teaching strategy. In contrast to the mechanical memorization characteristic of many language programs, the curriculum was designed to fully immerse the students in a Japanese environment. I was intrigued by that novel approach to language instruction and signed up not really knowing what to expect. As a linguistics major, I was eager simultaneously to understand why the methodology was so effective and to experience it for myself as a student.
I was surprised to find that from the first day, the only language allowed in the classroom was Japanese - even though I hadn't studied any Japanese yet! It seemed unorthodox at first, but Professors Marcus and Niimi made it really easy to learn the basic classroom instructions and participate. I loved that most of the classes were exclusively situational, context-oriented and challenged us to keep on our toes. All of the professors' enthusiasm was contagious. Role-playing in real-world situations helped me engage in and invest in the language, and prepared me for a real trip to Japan. Particularly because of the complexity of Japanese keigo, the formal polite language used differently depending on one's relationship with another, this constant reinforcement helped avoid embarrassment and even impressed my host family when I traveled to Japan.
I studied abroad in Tokyo during the summer after my junior year and stayed with a host family, who spoke almost no English. One of my fondest memories from that summer was when I spent an evening with my host mother watching an American movie where I not only translated it from English to Japanese, but explained why all of the jokes about Jewish-American culture were funny. Surprisingly, much of the humor translated fairly well! It took over four hours total, but was immensely rewarding and allowed us to bond by sharing our cultures.
Japanese has become my second language; I still find myself dreaming in Japanese occasionally, and every once in a while a thought will come to me in Japanese before it comes to me in English. (Particularly, the exclamation atsui!, which means, taking some creative liberty, "boy, is it hot outside!" That summer in Japan was a very hot one, so this was a common exchange between my host father and me.) I have been out of college now for over three years; despite my infrequent everyday use of Japanese, the fact that I can still speak Japanese with such fluidity is a testament to the quality of the Wash U program.
As a student, I participated in many clubs, was involved in an a cappella group, and studied various disciplines in the Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Business schools. And of all of these experiences throughout college, I consider studying Japanese to be hands-down the best decision I made. Because the classes were small, I got to know my classmates very well: in fact, three of my best friends from college were in my Japanese class. I cannot more highly recommend the Japanese program to any student, whether they want to learn Japanese specifically or are about to choose a second language to study.
Katherine Lundy (Japanese major '07)
I majored in Japanese Language and Literature as an undergraduate at Washington University from 2003 to 2007. I spent my junior year abroad at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, and I also had the privilege of participating in the Visiting East Asian Professionals program, through which I and four other students studied bunraku under the guidance of the Tonda Troupe in Shiga Prefecture. Thanks to the knowledge I gained as an undergrad in the Japanese department and the guidance of professors like Dr. Marvin Marcus, in 2007 I was accepted to the Fulbright program to conduct research for one year at a Japanese university after graduation. These Japan-related experiences have gone a long way toward defining me as an individual, both academically and personally.
It was because of the Japanese program that I chose to attend Washington University, and I have never stopped being happy with my decision. I found myself especially appreciating the superior language training and the dedication of my teachers and fellow students when I was living in Japan. Whenever I recount my experiences in the department (which I gladly do, perhaps more often than my friends would like), even people who know very little about Japan or Japanese are impressed by my account of the curriculum and the Wash U senseis.
Margaret Mann ('07):
If you had told me when I was a college freshman that I would spend the first four years after graduation living and working in Japan, I would never have believed it. The Wash U Japanese program changed the course of my life forever, and I will be forever grateful for it.
I started Japanese lessons on a whim. I was 18 and thought that learning a little Japanese could be fun, earn me some culture credits, and maybe be an interesting story to tell when I got older. I signed up for a semester thinking it would end there. But I was hooked by the end of my first week. Not only is the Japanese language fascinating, but the program makes you want to learn more.
This program is different from any other language program I have ever come across, mostly because they had us learning to speak from the first hour. It is designed to teach you how to speak, and although it does take a lot of hard work, you see results almost immediately. By the end of my second year I spent 6 weeks in Tokyo on a study abroad and was able to communicate really well with my host family, and I was placed in a class of people who had been studying Japanese since high school. That is when I first realized just how well I was being taught. By the end of my third year I earned an internship at a printing company in Osaka. The Wash U Japanese program gave me the ability to really get to know Japan in a way I never thought possible. It opened my life up to a whole new world of opportunities.
But a program cannot do any of that on its own. It is the teachers that make all the difference. The professors in this program make the classroom fun. They put in a lot of effort to make the scenarios applicable to real life. There is no mundane “This is a pen.” recitation in this class. I came out of each hour feeling like I had learned something new, and more importantly, something useful. You spend the whole time in class speaking and interacting with your classmates so you develop a strong bond with them. I am still in contact with many of my fellow Japanese learners, many of whom are in Japan with me. Also, since we meet so often, the teachers get to know us as individuals and they know where we struggle and they adjust the lesson to help us improve where we need it. You can tell that they go out of their way to help you succeed.
After graduation, thanks to the support of the Japanese faculty, I was accepted as a Coordinator of International Relations on the JET Program. I am currently working at the city hall in Kameoka, a city about 30 minutes west of Kyoto City. I spend my time translating documents for our sister cities, interpreting for the mayor when official visitors come, participating in and planning a variety of international exchange events, and leading exchange groups on tours of Kameoka, Kyoto, and Osaka.
Living in a foreign country has widened my world and given me amazing opportunities for traveling and meeting new people. It was only possible because of the Wash U Japanese Language Program.
Katie McKenzie (’07):
I am not exaggerating when I say that the Japanese program at Washington University in St. Louis was like a home away from home for me during my college years.I started with absolutely no knowledge of Japanese, and with the help of some very understanding and ambitious teachers, worked on my language skills until I was prepared to spend a year abroad. (I used to joke with my parents that the Japanese language classes at Washington University in St. Louis ruined me for all other majors—nothing else was as fast-paced or exciting in comparison.) I made friends in my classes who I suspect will be with me for life. The people attracted by the love for learning and the joyous spirit that permeates the Japanese department were exactly my idea of good company. The only way I can describe it is as having found a sense of home; I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
My junior year, I studied abroad with the Kyoto Consortium for Japan Studies (thanks in large part to the generous financial support of Washington University, the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, the Freeman Award for Study in Asia, and the Japan Foundation) and I came back a changed person. I cannot describe how eye-opening an experience it was, to leave my home country for the first time, communicate in a beautiful (if admittedly difficult to master) foreign language, and eat the most incredibly delicious things I could get my hands on. I came back walking like I was 10 feet tall, knowing that if I could survive in a setting that different from the one I was accustomed to, that I could accomplish just about anything.
I’m currently living and working in Washington, DC, and studying towards my master’s degree in Community Counseling (I’d like to be a career counselor or maybe a study abroad advisor one day). In my free time, I am a Sub-Committee Chair for the National Cherry Blossom Festival held here every year. Feel free to stop by this coming April—I’ll tell anyone and everyone that getting my degree from WashU in Japanese Language and Literature was one of the best choices I ever made.
Jeremy Borrego ('06)
My experiences at Wash U in the Japanese Department have truly changed the course of my life and given me a deeper comprehension of human communication and the implications for understanding Japanese society through the reflexive lens of American culture. Each day in Japan was a day I spent in awe of ancient shrines, beautiful architecture, delicious food, punctual public transit, and the endless generosity of the people I met. I will be forever in the debt of the Japanese Department at Washington University for providing me the ability to experience such grace, poetry, and joy. I wouldn't trade my experiences in St. Louis or Japan for all the Pocky in the world.
Amy Baum ('06):
To be honest, I rather disliked language study before I got to college. In fact, I avoided taking the required language classes at Wash U until my junior year. So when it came time to decide, after an argument with my father who insisted that Spanish would be far more useful (as we live in Phoenix), in an act of slight rebellion, I followed my own curiosity and walked into the first-year Japanese classroom, completely unaware that that single action would change the course of my life.
From day one, I was totally inspired by the way we were taught. I suddenly found myself able to speak Japanese - the one skill I had never found improving in my previous experiences learning language. I was so confident in my growing ability that after one year of study I visited Japan and really felt like I could get around without being afraid of opening my mouth to talk to people. Distraught that I could only have two years of language study (having started as a junior), I decided to apply to JET, and after graduation, I spent a year teaching English in a rural town in Japan.
When I came back to the U.S., it was with a renewed interest in language teaching. I had been frustrated by the teaching methods and the comparative lack of progress that my students had shown when I was teaching English "by the book" in Japan. My own experience studying Japanese had taught me that there was a much more effective way out there to teach and learn language. I couldn't live without pursuing my interest in teaching language further, so on Marcus-sensei's advice, I applied to the masters program in Japanese at The Ohio State University (OSU).
As much as I never saw myself becoming a language teacher, I REALLY never saw myself coming back to the midwest for more school, but the experience has been incredible. Now in my second year of study of Japanese pedagogy, I'm actually in the classroom, teaching first-year students who are in the same place I was only six years ago! Who could have imagined! Let me tell you, you would never guess how much work goes into preparing for ACT lessons.And I thought studying as a student was the hard part! The implementation of Japanese the Spoken Language, the book that we use, is incredibly effective, but it requires much more preparation and work on the part of the teachers, and more stress during the lessons (communicating clearly only using the Japanese that students know, getting students to produce the target patterns in contextually appropriate situations, correcting errors and also remembering each student's performance every class period to give a grade afterward, etc.), than it would to teach by a more traditional approach. Now seeing how it works from the other side of things, I only grow in my respect and admiration of the incredibly well-designed and well-run programs at Wash U and OSU.
Every day it amazes me how much that one choice and my experience at Wash U has completely shaped my life and my future. When I graduate with my masters, I'm planning on returning to Japan for a year or two to further pursue language teaching and learning opportunities there, and then I'm hoping to come back to the states to find a job teaching Japanese…or open my own language school. Who knows - the sky's the limit, but I know I'm incredibly lucky because I found a path in the last place I expected, and it's one that I wouldn't trade for the world!
Andrea Horisaki-Christens (BFA '04):
I stumbled upon the Japanese department more or less by accident as a freshman at Washington University. I had taken French in high school, and tested into a second or third year class that conflicted with courses required for my BFA degree. I intended to study abroad one way or another, and knowing that Wash U required at least two years of a language before studying abroad, I decided to take up a new language. Having had relatives and friends who had spent time in Japan, as well as s special semester-long course in high school on Japanese culture funded by a limited grant to one of our Social Studies instructors, I thought I would try out Japanese instead. I have to admit that while I knew it would be a challenge, I was taken aback by the amount of time and effort one had to invest in order to make progress in the language. However, I quickly found myself pulled in by a curiosity for the unique attributes of the language and its relationship to the culture. I was pulled in even further by the literature courses and by the time I had finished my year abroad in Japan, I had switched from a double major in Sculpture and Psychology (focus on cognitive neuroscience) to a double major in Sculpture and Japanese Language and Literature with a minor in Psychology.
Upon graduating I was uncertain what direction I would head in, and began applying to various sources of funding to travel abroad again and study art making techniques in Japan. However, in the meantime I began working in the contemporary art field, moved to New York, and eventually began working as a curator at a New York-based non-profit. While I maintained a connection to my Japanese language and studies through recreational reading, studio visits with Japanese artists living in or visiting New York on residencies, and occasional visits to Tokyo, it was strictly in an informal manner. However, over the past few years I found myself conducting further research into the history of modern art in Japan and as of this year, I have decided to apply for PhD programs in Art History with a specialization in modern Japanese art.
It would be impossible for me to pursue such studies without the invaluable training I received in the Department of Japanese Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. I have encountered many other individuals who "studied" Japanese since leaving St. Louis, but have quickly come to realize that the level of language training and the depth of cultural knowledge I gained from the program at Washington University far outstrips that provided by the universities these colleagues have attended. Although the studies required of us as students were often time consuming and seemingly tedious, I find myself grateful now that our instructors were able to provide us with the level of attention to help us master this material. In my experience, the availability of the faculty - both language and literature - in the Japanese department was unrivaled by all but my main degree advisors in Sculpture, and was key to my ability to learn from my previous errors. At the same time, it was this department that inspired me to take up the challenging and creative scholarship paths that lead me to enter a PhD program now, and so I am deeply indebted to the program and faculty.
Christopher Born (MA in East Asian Studies '03)
Having studied Japanese since my early years as a high school student in New York City, I can definitively say that the Japanese program at Washington University has been an invaluable asset to my professional development, both as a researcher and an instructor. From increased lexical skills to advanced grammatical development (and everywhere in-between), the professors have deeply invested in my growth as a student of not only the Japanese language, but Japanese culture. Such insights have contributed to my success as an instructor after completing the MA in East Asian Studies, as well as helping to foster essential skills for closer reading of original texts for doctoral research. To be sure, all of the professors' deep dedication and vast expertise became the deciding factor in my coming to Washington University first as an MA student, and now as a PhD student in Japanese Literature.
Karl Gruendel ('96)
When I stepped into the first year Japanese classroom at Wash U for the first time, I had no idea how profoundly that class would change my life. Almost 20 years later, I can say that I owe my career and my current life to the Japanese program at Wash U.
First, a brief description of my current life: I work in Tokyo for a large accounting firm. I advise US and Japanese companies and sometimes represent them before Japanese government officials. Every day I communicate with Japanese client personnel, Japanese government employees, and overseas finance personnel of my clients. I work in a diverse team with people from Japan and various other countries. Approximately half of my daily communication (spoken and written) takes place in Japanese, half in English.
My job and my living situation in Tokyo allow me to live a "bicultural" life. I work with both Americans and Japanese every day. Living in Japan, I can enjoy all the great things that Japan has to offer. But I also get to spend time with Americans at work and travel overseas on occasion for business. And Tokyo, as an international city, has plenty of Western culture and food. Living here has enabled me to build the ideal life for myself -- I can truly "have it all"!
And it all started when I began studying Japanese at Wash U. My Japanese classes were among the most enjoyable classes I had ever taken. The teachers were fantastic, full of enthusiasm, and great at making the language fun. The program was unlike any other I had experienced in a language class -- totally "context-based," with lots of cues, props, and other context along the way to facilitate rapid learning. As I later discovered, the Wash U Japanese programs is one of the best in the country. At the program in Japan where I later studied with students from other top American universities, the Wash U students all placed into the top three out of six levels of language classes. I later learned that the teachers at that program were so impressed that they asked one of my Wash U teachers how Wash U was able to produce such strong students!
After graduation, when I was hired into my first job at Arthur Andersen's Tokyo office, I had no experience or education in accounting, business, tax, or finance. My boss later told me that he hired me because of my Japanese language skills. The technical business skills, he said, could be learned on the job. Without my language ability I would not have been hired. Having observed the recruiting needs and hiring practices of firms in my field since then, I can say that having Japanese language ability is an enormous advantage and opens many doors for someone trying to enter the business field in Japan. There are very few native-English-speaking, US-educated business professionals with fluent Japanese. Such individuals are in extremely high demand, and it was my training at Wash U that enabled me to become fully functional in Japanese professional settings and establish a career here.
Christopher T. Keaveney, Professor of Japanese, Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon (MA Japanese Language and Literature , Ph.D. Japanese and Comparative Literature )
When I arrived at Washington University in 1990 and entered the M.A. program in the ANELL Department, I had lived in Japan for three years and spoke Japanese reasonably well, but I had never taken a formal Japanese course prior to entering the program, and my reading and writing skills were largely self taught. Admittedly, in retrospect, my Japanese skills were pretty rough. It was Marvin Marcus, my advisor, and Virginia Marcus, the head of the Japanese language section, who helped identify specific linguistic areas in need of improvement and provided direction during those critical early years of graduate study.
I was fortunate to take Japanese literature courses with Marvin Marcus, Rebecca Copeland and Robert Morrell, each of whom led me through close readings of works of Japanese literature, while also taking Chinese literature courses with Robert Hegel. I also was given the invaluable opportunity to teach Japanese as a Teaching Assistant with master language instructors including Virginia Marcus and Emi Fujiwara. This combination of opportunities helped prepare for the career that I have pursued as a Japanese instructor at a small liberal arts college. It is hard for me to imagine having the kind of close interaction with such an array of stellar faculty members at any other graduate institution in the country.
I applied to Washington University from Japan where I was living at the time in an age before the Internet and thus had little opportunity to research the ANELL Department and Japanese Language and Literature program carefully. I essentially just had a good feeling about the program and was aware of Washington University’s excellent academic reputation. I count my acceptance into that program as one of the best things that ever happened to me, and my decision to go to Washington University was one of the best decisions I ever made. As I advise my own Japanese undergraduate majors who are considering graduate school, I can think of no better place to pursue graduate studies in Japanese language and culture than Washington University.
Jessie Maynard ('95)
I studied Japanese at Wash U from 1991 to 1995, spending my 1993-1994 academic year at Waseda University. During my studies, I was always impressed with the skills and dedication of the Japanese language instructors at Wash U. My Japanese literature, history, and culture professors were also experts in their field and conveyed their subject matter with expertise and love of Japan. While at Waseda University, I had the opportunity to live with a wonderful Japanese family and to take classes on Japanese politics, economy, and business/labor --- in addition to Japanese language classes.
My education at Wash U successfully prepared me for my post-university jobs. After graduation, I participated in the JET Programme for two years as an assistant language teacher at a very rural, small-town junior high school. Thanks to my excellent education at Wash U, I was able to speak Japanese more fluently than 95% of my JET Programme peers. I had very strong and friendly relationships with my Japanese teacher coworkers at the school. My ability to communicate with them and befriend them allowed us to become friends and allowed me to gain their respect.
After the JET Programme, I returned home to Seattle, Washington, and worked as an executive assistant at a Japanese company's local office for two years. I then worked as a specialist in the Economics Section for the Japanese Consulate in Seattle for four years. At both organizations, I spoke Japanese with the Japanese staff and office visitors and had the opportunity to act as a liaison to the local community for the organizations.
I have been working for a defense contractor for the past seven years. I have not yet had the opportunity to use my Japanese language skills for the organization, but I try to study Japanese independently on my own time. I hope to use my Japanese on the job again someday.
I will always be thankful to the instructors of the ANELL department. Thank you for being such excellent instructors!
Sabrina (Keune) Tessereau (UMSL 1993; studied Japanese at Washington University):
Washington University's Japanese Language Studies Program was the highlight of my undergraduate studies. I loved every minute of my time in the Japanese language classes and cherished my classmates and wonderful instructors. I am very grateful for this program as it taught me what I needed to understand the Japanese language, and it gave me a deep appreciation of the culture of Japan. After graduation, I moved to Japan and taught English and also worked in an international modeling agency placing foreigners in jobs. This program is wonderfully challenging and incredibly rewarding!!