I cannot believe that our semester together at Sophia University is coming to an end. I very much look forward to your final papers. As you know, they are due Wednesday, August 1, 2012. I’ve asked you to create something new out of your imagination. Your paper is a blueprint for your own self-designed organization to tell America’s cultural story to the world. (In the politics and policy class, you must tell America’s foreign policy story to the world.)
I am making you the architect, the visionary, and CEO of this new agency. What is your main theme? What organizational divisions will you have, e.g., exchanges, international broadcasting, arts, online? How is it different from the way I describe the United States Information Agency in Propaganda, Inc.? Would you include celebrities in your public diplomacy? Why or why not?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you these past three months. The time flew by, as it always does when one is having a ball, as I have been. I love your culture, your manners, and your commitment to learning. I hope that some of you will consider study abroad in the United States. I hope you all will never stop learning. I am your sensei, but always your student, as there is so much left for me to learn about Japan, its politics, culture, people, and yes, as “Lights of Japan” put it, its resilience. Our time together has inspired me to learn some Japanese. I’ll never reach a level of fluency but I plan to learn enough Japanese to show my respect for your culture. (I’ve already ordered flash cards and three books!)
I don’t wish to get too overly sentimental about what this time together has meant to my life. Why don’t I have Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders explain what I mean. Thank you for helping to show me the meaning of the word.
I wish you well with your pursuit of becoming an English teacher. You are welcome to keep in touch with me as you walk along this path to your future professional goal. It is a worthy goal that I fully support since I happen to love the English language. I’m sure that is a big surprise!
Thank you for your American Culture class. Now I’m much more interested in American Culture. I was impressed your speech throughout the class: How to talk, what to tell, how to impress students, how to pull attention, etc. These were great. As I want to become an English teacher in the future, I won’t forget your management of the class.
Thanks, Jamal, for your very kind words. I look at teaching as a performance, just as a musician plays an instrument or an athlete runs a race. My instrument is my voice and I’ve gotten to a place in my teaching where my inspiration and note-taking come from memory. I’ve been teaching for twenty years and so that experience makes it look easy. I also love public speaking. I get a lot of energy from speaking to an audience. I always try to hone in on the energy of a group and what that group’s interests and passions are. That focus on the audience often leads to almost a jazz-like connection between the speaker and the group. We end up having something like a “jam session” (also known as a Jamal session in this case). One of the highlights of my life will be teaching at Sophia University as a Fulbright professor. Thank you for enlarging my life.
I enjoyed your class so much. You’re such a talented teacher. Honestly, the way you spoke to the whole class from beginning to end without any script and notes to remind yourself of what to say. I was astonished! Do you rehearse your speech at home?
I also enjoyed some of your jokes. I like this one in particular, where you were taunting the ad for the medicines of how they speak so fast at the end about all of the side effects. (:
Anyways, I hope I’ll see you some day.
Aya, this is exactly why I’m a teacher/learner. I learned so much from my Sophia students that you have sparked my interest in politics and culture in Japan. I plan to maintain strong ties with Japan the rest of my life, and a lot of the credit goes to my Sophia students who were so kind and good humored with their American Fulbright professor.
Although I sometimes found myself struggling with understanding the content of topics we looked up during the class, I totally enjoyed your class for the last three months. Before I took your class, I have to admit that I had almost no interest in learning politics and diplomacy in America. However, your classes with clear explanations and some pictures related to the topic, made me want to know a little bit more about America. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us at Sophia! Have a nice summer holiday back in America!
Dear Professor Snow,
I really enjoyed your class and learning American Culture. Your lecture was so interesting and fun that it makes me want to know about America more. I also ike reading this blog and articles. I will look for some interesting articles by myself! I am so glad to have your class and thank you for teaching us. We wil look forward to your visiting Japan again.
Saki, thanks for your kind words. I plan to return to Japan on a regular basis. My time at Sophia University and in Japan was a precious time of my life, one of the highlights in my life. Japan has truly won over my heart. Once a place has your heart, you can never really leave it. So I may very well experience that Japanese winter you mention.
Dear Professor Snow,
I had such a great time learning about American policy and politics. It was such an honor to be able to be taught by a professor like you! It really is a shame that you will be going back to America. I would have liked you to be able to experience winter in Japan too. The assignment you have given us is a little challenging, but I will put all my efforts into making a great paper! Again, thank you so much for teaching us. We will miss you!!