After Lewis & Clark

Our students go on to a variety of careers after graduation. Many participate in the Japanese government’s Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. We have had great success in placing graduates in JET as both assistant language teachers and coordinators for international relations positions, both of which require a high Japanese proficiency. Cole Nakashima, Peirman O’Keefe, Caroline Spence, and Isabel Zangoglia are participating in 2022.

Some of our graduates have worked for Japanese firms (Fedex Japan, Honda R&D Asia Pacific Co, Ltd., Google in Tokyo, web project manager in Kyoto, International Concierge in Tokyo, Beer brewery in Japan), and others have continued in their studies. Some recent graduates have gone on to PhD programs, a master’s program in mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis, and law school at the University of Hawaii.

Emma Wood '19

Emma Wood ’19

In August of 2019, I begin work as a JET Program CIR (Coordinator of International Relations) in Kirishima City, Kagoshima prefecture. My primary job duties include hosting cultural events, assisting in Kirishima sister city relationship activities, translation, and teaching English to the community at a weekly English tea time.

 Entering Lewis & Clark as a freshman with no formal Japanese training, I enrolled in Japanese 100 with the expectation of fulfilling my language requirements and pursuing a different area of study. After one semester I fell in love with Japanese and realized that I wanted to pursue fluency. Learning a language requires consistent time and effort that can deter many students. The Japanese department at Lewis & Clark reduced the anxiety and frustration that comes with language learning. The Japanese professors work so hard to make the material engaging and fun. Four years ago, on the first day of class, my professor drew a picture of the sun and taught me to say good morning; four years later I am confident in my language skills and have a job working for a city government in Japan. Lewis & Clark and their incredible Japanese language department made this possible. If you want to learn a challenging and rewarding language, study in an interactive class with eager classmates, and work in a classroom environment where you feel safe making errors, then study Japanese at Lewis & Clark.

Students at Lewis & Clark are encouraged to study abroad and I spent a semester studying in Japan at Osaka Gakuin. Four months in Japan permitted me to transition from textbook Japanese to conversational, natural Japanese. After studying abroad, I knew my next step after graduation was to live in Japan. My first job after graduation will require me to speak Japanese in a professional work environment and is the perfect transition from college to post-graduate life. I am so grateful for the opportunities that came to me from studying Japanese at Lewis & Clark.

Anna Blythe ’17

After graduating in 2017, I moved to Saijo, Ehime prefecture, where I work as a JET Program ALT at a junior high school. I help teach about 4-5 classes per day where I make games and activities related to holidays, customs, or the grammar we are studying. I also help with special needs English classes twice a week.

I remember first learning about the JET Program during my freshman year at Lewis & Clark, and from that moment I knew it was what I wanted to do as soon as I graduated. I am so grateful for the supportive community of the Japanese department at Lewis & Clark because I was able to get to know my professors personally which is invaluable at the college level. They helped me improve my Japanese over the years, assisted me with my JET Program application, and overall prepared me for my new life in Japan.

The hospitality I have experienced since moving to Japan is incomparable to anywhere I have been. If there is anything I hope to carry with me when I return from Japan, it is this incredible graciousness and kindness. I feel so at home here even when I am thousands of miles away from the US.

While there are still tough days that come with living abroad, I love getting to experience a new way of living every day. I find that I have become more resilient, confident, and have a much better idea of my direction in life after coming on the JET Program, and am very grateful for the connections I made at Lewis & Clark that mentored me and helped me to get here!

Indu Merritt ’17

I’m currently working on the JET Program as an ALT at a Junior High School in Sapporo, Hokkaido. I feel that learning Japanese at LC has helped me get to where I am today and has opened the door to working in Japan which was always a goal of mine. One of the many highlights from learning Japanese at LC was probably studying abroad in Osaka. LC Japanese language students are lucky in that we get 4 different Japanese study abroad programs to choose from! Studying abroad really helped with my language skills and created an unforgettable experience. 

 I studied abroad in Osaka at Osaka Gakuin Daigaku, and although the program was very language intensive, the fact that we got to room with other Japanese college students was amazing. It allowed my Japanese skills to really improve and since my roommates were other Japanese students it allowed me to make a lot of friends! Now whenever I visit Osaka I always have friends to go back to. 

 To me, the Japanese professors I had at LC were great and always made class fun but challenging. This really pushed me to study hard and really learn the language. Because of the wonderful experience I’ve had studying Japanese at LC, it has pushed me to want to learn more languages. I think it’s very important to at least try and learn more languages. From learning Japanese and studying/working abroad I definitely feel like my perspective on the world has widened and it has made a strong but positive impact on the way I think.

Hilary Oleson ’11

Currently she is teaching English at an Eikaiwa (English conversation) school. She especially likes teaching shy kids because she is a shy person herself, so she knows how to get them to relax and be more active. She loves that the really small children, when they see her, sometimes start using the English words she taught them or hug her legs!

While studying in LC, she studied abroad in Sapporo, Hokkaido. According to her, best things about Sapporo includes the cooler weather, the friendly people, no getting lost in downtown Sapporo, and the Snow Festival.

When she didn’t think her Japanese was improving enough in Sapporo, she decided to join what turned out to be an extremely high-level Yosakoi team at the college. She roughly spent a third of her time practicing for the Yosakoi Soran Festival, and that was amazing for her.

There are so many great things about joining the Yosakoi team! For one, it finally felt like she belonged at Hokusei Gakuen University. She would walk to class or lunch and have people to say :”Ohayo!” to. And her teammates really went out of their way to help her out so she could practice. She was really impressed by their commitment as well, like how all of them kept dancing even though many of them were injured.

The fact that she had to use Japanese to communicate with most of her Yosakoi teammates increased her Japanese level so much!

Alia Carter ’10

Alia is working as an information concierge and tour guide at the Nihonbashi Information center in Tokyo where she gives information for tourists, do tours, and things like PR and translations.

Her mom is from Japan but she grew up speaking English so she always wanted to study Japanese one day. Since her high school didn’t offer it, she looked for a college with Japanese classes and a study abroad program to Japan. She was really happy with LC’s Japanese department. She would definitely say her Japanese learning experience at LC led her to her current job. Learning Japanese at LC allowed her to live everyday life and work in Japan and gave her the background necessary to succeed in her job.

She does translations at work, so she finds a solid base in reading and writing Japanese she built in LC really useful. Also, she majored in East Asian Studies with a concentration on Japan. She believes that having a background knowledge of Japanese history, culture, and art is also advantageous since in her job she is introducing Japan to tourists who visit Nihonbashi, often explaining cultural and historical items during tours.

Calling all Japanese alumni! What have you been up to since graduation? Start an interesting job? Discover a hidden talent? Used your liberal arts experience and degree to better the world? Adopt a cat? We’d love to know!