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Misa Lindberg

"Tokyo...literally changed the course of my life"

I went to Tokyo ... and it literally changed the course of my life.

How did you become interested in AMES/Asian Studies?

I first became interested in pursuing an AMES major after falling in love with the Japanese language program at Northwestern. I wished to pursue my knowledge of the culture, language, and history of Japan and its neighboring countries.

How did your interest develop while at Northwestern?

I took great classes on religion, politics, culture, and literature. My interest expanded as my knowledge of the region deepened.

What were your favorite courses and professors and why?

My favorite courses were all levels of Japanese with Professor Taira Yasohama. Her approach to language teaching included rigorous grammar and vocabulary instruction combined with cultural learning. I also enjoyed learning about Chinese political science with Professor Victor Shih.

If you studied abroad, where did you go? How did the experience affect you?

I studied abroad twice in Japan--once in the summer and once for half a year. I went to Tokyo both times, and it literally changed the course of my life. I returned to Japan a year after graduation for post-graduate studies in Japan and this opened up doors leading to a career in translation.

How has your AMES/ASP coursework affected your career and/or your life in general?

I felt very prepared to study abroad after having been part of the Japanese language studies program at Northwestern. My coursework at AMES also gave me the background I needed to pursue further studies after graduation and have a well-rounded view of Asia as I pursued a career in publishing and translation, working with many Asian companies. 

What are you currently doing as far as employment? Further education, etc.?

After graduating from Northwestern, I earned a certificate in Advanced Japanese Language Studies from Stanford University's Inter-University Center in Yokohama and later received my Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from The College of New Jersey. I currently teach English to refugee children from Africa and Asia in Vermont and am also a published translator of Japanese literature and academic journal articles.

What might you say to an undergrad regarding the value of Asian Studies courses?

While you have the freedom and time to take courses in Asian Studies, do it! They will greatly expand your view of the world and spark interests in areas of study you never knew existed. Your courses may even physically lead you to another part of the world!

Any other experiences related to your course of study, whether in Evanston, abroad, or elsewhere, that you find particularly meaningful?

A paper I wrote in a post study-abroad anthropology class at NU turned into my first published piece of writing. The article would never have come about without the encouragement and feedback of my professor.

Immediately after graduation, I taught in a bilingual English-Japanese school in Rolling Meadows, IL. I was so grateful for all the NU classes that led me to feel prepared for and comfortable in that position.
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