Where are you from?
I was born in Magrath and I completed all of my schooling there. Japanese was my first language; I didn’t learn English until Grade 2. As a child, I didn’t like that I was Japanese Canadian. I just wanted to be Canadian and to look like everyone else.
When did you come to the U of L and what do you do here?
I started at the U of L in the late ‘80s doing registration for non-credit courses in continuing education. Continuing education no longer exists, but at that time it was sort of a catch-all department for non-credit courses and English as a Second Language programming. That’s when I first worked with a group of Japanese students with the Hokkai-Gakuen exchange and started to learn more about the culture. I really enjoyed working with them and all the other international students. I started doing programming for these different groups and, the more I worked with international students, the more I knew that’s what I really enjoy doing.
I was also a part-time student and I left my job to finish my first degree. As a student, I did a study tour to Belarus and exchanges to Hokkai-Gakuen and Taiwan. Then I was accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. I worked in Japan for four years and I loved it. When I returned, I taught in the English for Academic Purposes program for two years before I moved into my current position.
I look after our exchange students from the time they apply to the University to when they leave. I’m their support from day one. If there are any issues, whether it’s with accommodations or if they’re feeling a little blue, I’m always here to listen to them. Culture shock and homesickness are the biggest things they go through. We have students who have never experienced winter. They always enjoy the first snowfall, but that doesn’t last very long.
In addition to looking after the exchange students, I do a lot of event planning.I assist with the organization of International Education Week and with the International Dinner.
What’s the best part of your job?
My students. I love my students and I learn so much from them. I’m always learning new facts and new things about each student and every country. In the fall, I typically have 50 students and about 20 in the spring semester.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I currently have a brown belt with two stripes in karate and I’m getting closer to my goal of obtaining a black belt. I practice karate for all of its health and wellness benefits. Obtaining a black belt is not the end, but the beginning of a journey.