Alum Teaches English in East Asia
After two years teaching English in Japan, and surviving the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Southwestern International Studies graduate goes to Tainan City, Taiwan to study Chinese.
Since graduation, IS alum Amy Hubbard (‘09) has been putting her International Studies knowledge to good use. After graduation, she accepted an English teaching position with the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program which places native English speakers in public schools all over Japan. She taught English to elementary and junior high students in northern Japan for two years, during which time she also learned conversational Japanese. In September, she left Japan to enroll in a language program in Taiwan. She is currently enrolled in Chinese language program at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan city. Of the International Studies program at Southwestern she has this to say: “The IS program gave me the cultural knowledge and language skills I use every day here in Taiwan. I was taught to constantly ask questions, while at the same time accepting that the complexities of intercultural communication sometimes defy explanation. Academically, the program also prepared me for my future goal as an area studies librarian.”
Another thing she has learned about is the unexpected that goes with living and traveling abroad. She was a witness to and directly affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. As she herself recounts: “Southern Akita [the northern prefecture where she was teaching] wasn’t hit by the tsunami … but it wiped out the supply lines into our prefecture so we were without food or kerosene/gas for about three weeks. I didn’t really have any stock of food ready for me, so I had to rely on the graciousness of my neighbors, friends, and coworkers to feed myself. They gave me all that they could in a time of true uncertainty, because we really had no idea when the roads would be drivable enough for food and gasoline to come into the city. I never saw any looting or misbehavior from anyone during that scary time, even though there were many abandoned cars and unmanaged stores in my area. When we sat in line for gasoline, people waited patiently for hours, literally hours, until it was their turn. If the gas station ran out of gas rationed for that day, nobody got angry or acted out of turn, they would simply go home and try again another time… I think I learned more about the Japanese culture during those few weeks than I could have in five years.”