Graduates head to Japan to teach and expand
July 22, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
experiences with Centre-in-Japan inspired him to return to the
country to teach English.
While in Japan, Moore and a fellow exchange student spent time
teaching elementary students about peace during a cultural
Since Centre College began the Centre-in-Japan study abroad program, students have explored, studied and fallen in love with the country. Each year, five to 10 Centre students head to Yamaguchi Prefectural University to spend a term soaking up Japanese culture, history, language and more. And upon graduation, many of these students are eager to return to Japan, a desire they often fulfill by participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.
The program enables recent college graduates to teach foreign language education in schools throughout Japan, as well as in local governments and boards of education.
At the end of July, two 2010 graduates, Beth Neal of Edgewood, Ky., and Josh Moore of Louisville will head to Japan to begin their JET experiences.
Neal, who will be teaching in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, says she was inspired to apply for the program “by my ideas of where I want my life to go. Since I was a kid, I had always had a plan of where my life was going. But after interning at a law firm my sophomore year, I discovered that I no longer wanted to be a lawyer, and my life plan was thrown into chaos.”
That changed when Neal took part in Centre-in-Japan during the fall of her junior year. “It was the most amazing experience of my life,” she says. “I had always had an interest in Japanese culture, and while I was in Yamaguchi, I had a great time studying at YPU, living with my host family, going on adventures with my Japanese friends, experiencing Japanese culture and traveling around the country. When the program was over in January, I felt that I had only just started to truly experience Japan, and I knew that I definitely wanted to go back.”
What she enjoyed most about the study abroad experience in Yamaguchi, Neal says, was “the way that Japan expanded my cultural perspective, which was a result of all of the amazing experiences I had, like the people that I met, traveling to so many different places and getting to experience all the cultural aspects, like the smell of incense in the graveyards every morning on my way to school and the fish market in Shimonoseki.”
Moore, who also studied abroad in Japan during his junior year, says the experience was the biggest motivator in his decision to apply for the JET program. “After I came back, I felt that there was so much more to learn,” he says. “I applied for the JET program for a chance to broaden my worldview and deepen my understanding of Japanese culture and language.”
During his time abroad with the program, Moore will be living and teaching on a small island called Tokunoshima.
“It’s exciting knowing that I’m going to a completely new place for a couple years, meeting new people and learning new things,” he says. “I feel much more prepared for the program knowing some Japanese and being familiar with the culture. Studying abroad helped me to step outside my shell a bit and teach English abroad, something I’m not sure I’d have done had I not studied abroad at Centre.”
Neal also believes her Centre education will benefit her tremendously as a teacher in Japan. “Centre increased my ability to think abstractly, which really helped to prepare me for this experience,” she says. “It increased my ability to be open-minded, gave me the ability to shift my cultural perspective, prepared me for different cultural experiences and allowed me to have deeper cultural insight than would otherwise have been possible.”