Class of 2010
Carl G. Seasword Award in Japanese
I remember all the slightly bewildered looks I received when I first announced my plans to pursue a double major in French and Asian Studies, as if people were trying to figure out the connection between these two fields. However, that is the beauty of Mount Holyoke: all of my French professors and Japanese professors have been behind my decision 100%, supporting and encouraging me to study both languages as well as to pursue others given the opportunity.
My language studies have taken me to Kyung Hee University in Suwon, South Korea; Middlebury French Language School in Vermont; and Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. As I was adamant about devoting one whole year to only one country, it was difficult for me to choose whether to study abroad a year in France or in Japan. I ultimately chose to spend my junior year abroad with the Associated Kyoto Program. I can honestly say this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
During my year abroad, I learned a lot about the Japanese language and culture. With the help of my wonderful host mother I also learned a lot about myself. Spending a year in Kyoto made me reassess my reasons for learning Japanese: a love for Japanese popular culture (anime and dramas), as well as for Japanese traditional culture (tea ceremony and kimono). While I am still working towards fluency in Japanese, I had learned enough Japanese at MHC to communicate with few problems and to watch the popular television series without subtitles, fulfilling my initial goals. Talks with my host mother that ranged from Japanese history to a funny story about a neighbor gave me a new reason to continue with my studies: an appreciation for communicating in the Japanese language which is simply beautiful.
While I am proud of my Japanese language awards, my time with my host mother reminds me of one very important fact: learning a language is not about the awards as much as it is about the new relationships that develop with the help of linguistic bridges.