Japan Outreach Initiative program coordinator begins two-year stay at MU

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University
Japan Outreach Initiative program coordinator begins two-year stay at MU

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Azusa “Hanah” Yamada is looking for an audience. More precisely, she’s looking for lots of audiences.  As Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) program coordinator at Marshall University, Yamada is spending the next two years in Huntington demonstrating various aspects of the Japanese culture for any interested community groups or schools.

“I would like to make U.S. people familiar with Japan,” she said. “That’s the bottom line.”

The purpose of the Japan Outreach Initiative is to promote interest in and the study of Japan through grassroots exchanges between the U.S. and Japan. It is jointly administered by the Laurasian Institution and the Japan Foundation. The JOI position at Marshall is funded by the Japan Foundation, the Center for Global Partnership and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia.

Yamada, 23, is housed in the Department of Modern Languages on MU’s Huntington campus and reports to Natsuki Anderson, an associate professor in Modern Languages, and coordinator of the Japanese program at Marshall. Yamada has been at Marshall for about three weeks.

Anderson said she has no doubt that Yamada will succeed in her efforts to provide cultural enrichment throughout the area.

“I thought she was different from the other coordinators,” Anderson said. “The others were more reserved and serious. She is more relaxed and very friendly. She is very outgoing and social.”

Dr. David J. Pittenger, dean of MU’s College of Liberal Arts, said having Yamada on campus benefits students and the community.

“From what we know about economic markets, the world is flat and becoming smaller,” Pittenger said. “West Virginia currently enjoys many economic ties with Japan as more companies engage in international business. Having Ms. Yamada on campus will allow our students and the residents of the greater Huntington area to learn more about the Japanese people and their culture. Marshall University is dedicated to preparing its students to live and work in an international business environment that will benefit this great state.”

Yamada said she is thrilled to be in Huntington and at Marshall. She is a graduate of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, and is a native of Aichi prefecture, which is located in the middle of Japan.

“This type of job was kind of my dream,” Yamada said.

Yamada gives presentations on Japanese festivals and ceremonies, the everyday Japanese lifestyle, school life in Japan, and Manga and Anime (comics and animation). She conducts activities such as trying on Kimono/Yukata, and making crafts such as Origami, dolls and fans. She conducts chopstick challenges and she even makes sushi rolls and a Japanese breakfast.

“The role of my job is to be a bridge between the U.S. and Japan,” Yamada said. “I can provide various cultural experiences for any community groups or schools interested in Japan.”

Yamada also conducts language classes. Beginners learn conversational phrases and Japanese characters and business people learn business phrases and Japanese manners. She also gives Japanese quizzes, sings Japanese songs and reads Japanese stories in Japanese and English, mostly to children.

All of her presentations and activities are free of charge. Anyone wanting to talk with Yamada about a possible presentation may call her at 304-696-7257 or e-mail her at yamadaa@marshall.edu.