My placement:
I worked as an assistant instructor in Prof. Jason Lowes’s English classroom at Fukuyama University, where I helped out with three English II classes, three English IV classes, and one remedial English class. From the beginning, he had me interacting one-on-one with the students, and I administered various casual speaking quizzes with them for the first few weeks so they could get used to talking to me. After the halfway point I was teaching my own lessons with the English II classes, and then another Global Gateway student arrived from Pennsylvania so she took on the English II lessons while I switched to the English IV lessons. The highlights were definitely the flexible schedule because of the college campus placement, the opportunities to observe other professors’ classrooms, and the chance to work with students who were eager to practice with me regardless of their English language ability.

The host culture:
I’m part Japanese, so I already have a pretty strong connection to the culture and customs there – every time I visit I am always so impressed by the deeply considerate nature of Japanese people. And I know this is probably a cliché, but the food is so good! I feel like I took a picture of every meal I ate because it was all so beautiful, even at the school cafeteria.

Practicing language skills:
The language is definitely challenging. I have a solidly intermediate grasp on the language, and I heard it a lot growing up, so I have an advantage over foreigners who haven’t studied it. My mother always tells me to get 9 hours of sleep when I’m in Japan so my mind can work fast enough to speak and comprehend the language, and I forget every time – but it certainly helps to prioritize sleep and health in general! It’s not an impossible challenge, though, because there are plenty of English-speaking colleagues on campus and around the country.

Global Gateway was absolutely crucial in my School of Education experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out into the world and watch yourself bloom into an international educator, a bridge between worlds, and my memories of it include some of the most critical professional and personal development I’ve had in college.

Professional development:
I made the connection between my love of research and the potential for pursuing higher education, which I had never thought I’d want to do before. If I had stayed in Indiana I wouldn’t have been working in my own office on a university campus, doing research and helping my colleagues with their research, and reconsidering the limits of my own academic ceiling. As soon as I got back I applied to grad school, and I’m proud to say I’m going to pursue a Masters in education next! Without the Global Gateways program, I also wouldn’t have had the experience of using my skills in drama pedagogy to teach other subjects, like EFL or History or Media – the latter of the two were mostly in club activities I would help facilitate. 

Advice for future students:
Keep your eyes and ears open for people who want to help you, and for opportunities to get involved. It is more than likely that another teacher wants to bring you into their classroom to do an activity with their students, and that’s another connection to work with! There are so many community events going on all the time – I went to a yoga class at one point, and a children’s music concert, and a Special Olympics Judo event. Keeping your eyes open early for those events will also help with your Service Learning Project! If you’re in a non-English-speaking Overseas placement, seek out international/exchange student club activities to attend, and get to know the other foreigners in your area – they’ll be crucial allies to talk with about your experiences and get feedback.

Personal impact:
Global Gateway was absolutely crucial in my School of Education experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out into the world and watch yourself bloom into an international educator, a bridge between worlds, and my memories of it include some of the most critical professional and personal development I’ve had in college. I can’t write enough about how grateful I am for this program, and for all the work the Global Gateways team does to make sure we all get the chance to fly wherever we set our minds to.