Ohio-Japan Alumni Network (OH-JAN) Signature Event, "Alumni Voices: Sharing Japan-related Experiences and Opportunities": Oct. 24, 2015
About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend and be a panelist at The Ohio-Japan Alumni Network event held at The Ohio State University. This event has been in the works for quite some time, as Janet Stucky from OSU has been diligently working together with various Alumni from all over the state to put it together. She has done all kind of great work related to Japan and Japanese in Ohio and you should definitely check out her work here.
The goal of this program was to connect Alumni from the state of Ohio who have studied Japanese and use it in their careers with students, educators, and other alumni. Many universities from all over Ohio were represented at this event including OSU, Denison University and University of Findlay.
The alumni who spoke at this event showed possible career paths with Japanese, offered job opportunities and networking, and were able to serve as mentors to future professionals in the field. They not only spoke about their journey as students, but were also able to showcase the steps they took and how they got to different places in their careers.
It was really cool to hear other people’s paths and journeys with Japanese, and how all of us had various interests along the way. We all used Japanese as a tool to get to where we are today. We had various travel and study experiences, and none of us really had a straight path to the careers we have currently. It was the unique combination of experiences and studies which we shared that differentiated us from our peers.
This event was a great networking opportunity among alumni as well as a helpful mini career fair for current students and individuals looking for career ideas. The alumni and panelists met during lunch and brainstormed various ideas for growing our network, as well as subdividing the state of Ohio into smaller areas and defining ways to reach out and connect within the universities of that area.
The link to the OH-JAN webpage is here.
Please visit for more upcoming events and contact information for the panelists.
Videos from the event and interviews of the Alumni with their stories can be found here.
They are being uploaded currently, so stay tuned.
If you are an Ohio Alumni and are interested in contributing with your story, please submit information and a video of how your career is related to Japan here.
More photos from the event can be found here.
My big takeaway from this is stay connected, network, network, network, and continue your Japanese studies. You never know where they will take you!
States where studying Japanese is prevalent, you should definitely think about creating your own alumni group as a way to stay connected and to see what your graduates are doing!
Since we began offering Japanese at Marysville High School last year, we have also created a Japanese culture club. We meet weekly on Tuesdays after school and discuss various aspects of Japanese culture, history, food, etc. The students take turns researching topics they are interested in, and creating presentations while leading discussions with their classmates. This has been pretty efficient and students end up taking their research to the next level and applying it to their classroom learning.
My husband and I are active members of the Japan America Society of Central Ohio JASCO, and we regularly attend their History Club monthly meetings and other fun events related to Japan. About a month ago, at one of our History Club meetings, I met Chie Schuller, from THK Manufacturing, who exchanged her contact information with me. She reached out to me right away and said that her company was very interested in doing outreach and invited our students to tour the facility.
On Tuesday October 20, the Japanese Club members and I took an hour-long bus ride to Hebron Ohio and had the opportunity to meet the President, HR personnel, as well as the translators and interpreters for this company. My students were so excited to see how the language that they have been studying and working on is so beneficial and applicable right here in Ohio. Japan is the number one foreign investor in our state and it is important that we all advocate for its relevance and need.
When we arrived we had a panel introduction of the President and director, and my students got to see firsthand how the interpreters worked simultaneously to interpret the English spoken language into Japanese and vice versa for the THK personnel. My students also got a chance to introduce themselves and tell the company why they were interested in Japanese and why they chose to study the language. One of my Japanese 2 students even did her entire introduction in Japanese! I was so proud!
After meeting the staff, our students got their very own guided tour of the facility. We got to see how the metal parts are made and assembled as well as how well the robots worked to assist the humans!
Afterwards, THK was gracious enough to provide us with some awesome pizza for dinner, as our students participated in round table discussions and Q & A sessions with the interpreters and translators. They asked some very insightful questions, such as the interpreters' biggest struggles and challenges, why they chose to study Japanese, and how to improve language skills. Overall, this was very productive and my students even wished they had more time to talk!
I am so excited to be able to offer opportunities such as this one to our kids here at Marysville. Students need to take their language learning outside of the classroom and see its real-life applications and possible future career options. I strongly encourage teachers of non commonly taught languages, as well as common world languages to seek opportunities in and outside of their community to get students excited about what they are learning. We need to advocate for our programs and for the importance of learning another language. Take advantage of your connections and colleagues. You never know who your students can connect with!
I am a high school Japanese teacher developing my own comprehensive and communicative Japanese program in Marysville, Ohio.