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December 2019 - Zari Smith

December 2019

Zari Smith

BA International Studies (Comparative Culture and Identity); BA Asian Studies (Japanese Studies) ‘20

Hometown: Columbus, Georgia

Affiliations: Center for Japanese Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board, Residential College Japanese Program Tutor

“In January 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan for a week to participate in a US-Japan relationship building program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Kakehashi Project. The goal of this program was to allow those with an interest in Japanese culture and language to experience Japan firsthand. This program provided me with a sense of validation I never felt before. I knew I was always interested in studying Japan, but seeing the country with my own eyes was the ultimate confirmation that I choose the right area of study.

After that program I was hooked and knew I had to come back for more. So I decided to try for the Critical Language Scholarship Program by the US Department of State to study in Japan for a longer period of time. This program allowed me to stay in Japan for two months on a program with a strict Japanese-only language policy. Those two months developed my language skills and own character so much more than I ever could have imagined. Everyday, I interacted with locals in only Japanese and created international bonds that will last a lifetime through cross-cultural communication.

Thanks to the great experiences I had in Japan, I decided to return to study abroad this past winter semester at Hitotsubashi University for six months. Like the last two times, I was able to learn so much about Japanese culture firsthand. However, after living in a rural area last summer, this program gave me a greater sense of the diversity of the Japanese lifestyles that exist in other areas. Also,the university I studied at had a large amount of international students from around the world whom I took classes with. Through all the discussions that took place in classes, I came out with a larger appreciation for the diversity that the world offers.”

Future plans: “My goal ever since entering college has been to become a translator. Something about taking a work in  Japanese and skillfully converting it into something that can be of further use or enjoyment for those around the globe has always been appealing to me. As of now, I am considering multiple options including graduate school, finding an entry translation job, and participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program as a coordinator for international relations. No matter which route I end up on, I know the destination will help me gain experience as a translator.”