Erika Hutchinson

The class that I’ve been talking about nonstop ever since taking it is The Art of Tea in Japanese Culture. I really only wanted to take it because I love tea, but that class ended up being a lot more than just learning about matcha. There were the historical elements and the movements of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, both of which I truly enjoyed.

Erika Hutchinson BA ?22

Pronouns

she/her

Degree and Class Year

BA ’22

Hometown

Fort Collins, Colorado

Major

English

Minor

Japanese

Extracurriculars

Japan Club, Asian Student Union, Fire Arts, The Literary Review

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

My Oregon Home

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

There are so many classes that I could label as my favorite, but the one that I’ve been talking about nonstop ever since taking it is The Art of Tea in Japanese Culture with Visiting Instructor Jan Waldmann. It’s a class that I tried to get into every semester but it always filled up too quickly, so I was pretty excited when I finally snagged a spot my senior year. I really only wanted to take it because I love tea, but that class ended up being a lot more than just learning about matcha. There were the historical elements and the movements of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, both of which I truly enjoyed. Learning aside, the class became a space for me to simply let go of any built-up stress and take a moment out of my week to enjoy the now. It expanded my knowledge of my favorite drink and of a piece of my culture as a Japanese American. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention how neatly the class paired with my Japanese language studies since it is after all a cultural course. Drinking matcha every week was a real bonus that had me wonderfully spoiled all semester.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I knew from the start that I wanted to attend a smaller school with smaller classes. The idea of being in one of those large lecture halls they always show in the movies was way too daunting for me. L&C was actually one of the first schools I considered applying to because of its size, as well as its location. The English department and overseas and off-campus programs also matched very closely with what I was looking for. In the end, my decision landed on L&C because the overall feel of it really resonated with me.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

The liberal arts emphasizes expanding your knowledge beyond just one field, and I think L&C does a good job of embodying that. Our general education requirements make it easy for us to explore other subjects, even if for just one class. For example, I took Environmental Geology during my first year, which I don’t think I would have ever taken if I wasn’t at a liberal arts school.

Where do you find community on campus?

The easiest place for me to find community has been Japan Club, in which I have been the most consistently involved throughout my four years here. In truth, I found it really hard to integrate myself within the club’s community as a shy first-year student, but I still did my best to participate in the events. That paid off well because at the end of that year I was invited to become a board member, and since then I’ve been able to become heavily involved in the club and its community. Japan Club has allowed me to meet people with similar interests and get to know the Japanese international students that come in every year. As a senior, I’ve been meeting and interacting with several of the newer students, most of whom I probably wouldn’t know without Japan Club connecting us. Being a part of that community has definitely had many positive impacts on my time at L&C.

Which residence halls have you lived in? How would you describe the hall’s personality? What is/was the best thing about living on campus?

During my first two years, I lived in the same room on the second floor of Platt East. My junior year I finally moved locations to Holmes, and now as a senior I’m living in a two-person apartment in Roberts. Each building has a different vibe, so it’s really easy to distinguish each year on campus just by considering where I was living at the moment. Platt allowed me to connect with people from around the world—I was a part of the Global Village Living-Learning Community for both years. My year in Holmes was interesting because this was during the peak of the pandemic where practically everything was online, so it ended up becoming a little safety bubble for myself. In Roberts, it can be harder to build a community since everyone has their own mini communities within each apartment space, but it’s been my favorite place to live. I have my own room, kitchen, and bathroom—not to mention that Maggie’s is literally downstairs. I did consider moving off campus, but in the end I’m glad that I stayed on campus for all four years. I don’t have a car, so it’s a lot more convenient and also easier to stay in touch with people outside of my circle.

If you went on a New Student Trip with College Outdoors, how did it shape your experience as an incoming student?

I went surfing on the coast. Going on a New Student Trip (NST) was really beneficial as a gentle yet adventurous transition from high school into college. One of my biggest fears about starting college, especially as an out-of-state student, was having to integrate myself into a completely new environment of people with not a single familiar face in sight. My NST introduced me to other incoming students as well as current ones, so when the school year started I had already established a group of people with whom I could comfortably spend time.

If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far?

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to study overseas. Before COVID happened, my plans were to study in Fukuoka for the first semester of my junior year, and then in Osaka for the following semester. Being half-Japanese, Japan and its culture are really precious to me, so I knew even before starting college that I wanted to study in Japan. When I first applied, I couldn’t make up my mind between the Fukuoka and Osaka programs because they equally appealed to me, so I ended up applying to both for different semesters. It was actually really quite heartbreaking when all of the programs to Japan were repeatedly canceled over the past two years, and I’m still feeling a little bitter about it. But I’d say the absence of a study abroad experience has made me more determined and enthusiastic to either study or work in Japan post-graduation.

Have you been involved with one of our symposia, as an organizer or participant? What was the experience like? How did the event complement your academic experience?

In 2021, Carmen Maria Machado gave a keynote speech for the Gender Studies Symposium. Her talk on “Archival Silence as Potential” was incredibly interesting to me, especially as someone who loves to write. At the time, I was taking fiction writing classes where we read some of her pieces, so it was a wonderful opportunity to listen to an author who I was pretty familiar with.

Did you visit campus before deciding to come to L&C? How did your visit influence your decision to attend?

L&C was one of two schools that I visited, the other one being Reed College. If I hadn’t visited, I probably still would have ended up choosing to go to L&C, but seeing the campus and meeting some current students definitely helped me feel a lot more confident about my decision. For one, the campus is absolutely beautiful, and the pictures you find online don’t really do it justice. It was also pouring rain on the day I visited, and as someone who loves the rain and had never been to Oregon before, it was a memorable introduction to campus.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Study hard, but not too hard. Good grades are an important goal to strive for, and so is having fun. Make silly memories while studying in the library, and make other exciting and unusual memories that bring you out of the library.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

Maggie’s! I go there all the time to get a drink or late-night snacks, and I’ve used it as a place to meet with friends and study, or even just to hang out. The vibes are always immaculate; I would consider it to be one of the most convenient aspects that the campus has to offer.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

Portland is a lot bigger than Fort Collins, my hometown. Even after four years, I still get a little shocked by its size, including the height of the buildings downtown. I’m not saying this as a negative though, because its size offers innumerable places to explore—many of which I still have yet to see. I never feel bored while living in Portland.

How did you decide on a major?

It was a pretty easy decision for me, which doesn’t always happen to people. Coming out of high school, I knew that I wanted to continue writing, and L&C’s English major includes a creative writing concentration. I loved all of my high school English classes, so I guess you could call my becoming an English major a no-brainer.

What led you to study creative writing?

I grew up wanting to publish my own books, so I took several creative writing courses in middle and high school and found myself wanting to continue exploring my writing as I entered college. L&C’s creative writing concentration made it really easy for me to take as many classes as I wanted while still being able to apply them toward my English major. With that convenience on top of my overall interest in writing, pursuing creative writing was an easy choice. During my four years here, I took all five Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Writing courses. In my experience, the difference between college creative writing and high school creative writing is that you’re given a lot more time to actually workshop your pieces, which has proven to be my favorite aspect of studying it.

What’s your best Lewis & Clark memory so far?

One time when our classes were mostly online, I visited one of my Japanese professor’s offices. I wasn’t taking any classes with her that year, so it was my first time seeing her since spring 2020. She made tea and brought out snacks, and all we did for the next hour or so was catch up. Having that chance to talk with her face-to-face was a special moment since I think most, if not all of us, were dealing with some degree of separation from our usual social circles during that first year of the pandemic.