30 Years, 30 Stories

JCMU 30 Years, 30 Stories

It’s JCMU’s 30th anniversary! To celebrate 30 years of students exploring Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, we will be posting a new JCMU alumni story every Thursday from February 15th through September 6th, 2018.

Finding love abroad? Going on to work for a Japanese company? Writing for the official One Piece website?!? From fun misadventures to the professional benefits study abroad gave them, discover just some of the amazing stories our past students have in store for you!

Are you a JCMU alum interested in telling your own JCMU story? Then we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at media@jcmu.org for more information.


snap-judgement-get-together.jpgA Mosaic of Experiences
Glynn Washington, 1989-90

How has study abroad changed you? For our first installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 1989-90 alum Glynn Washington, and learn how his time in Hikone pushed him to truly experience the world we all live in.


stott-5.jpgBecoming Family
David Stott, 1990-91

Have you bonded with one person in Japan so much that you became family? For our second installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 1990-91 alum David Stott, and learn how his time at Sugimoto’s helped cement his love of Japan.


8.jpgLove in Shiga
Gary Wroblewski, 1991-92

Have you ever found love in Shiga? For our third installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 1991-92 alum Gary Wroblewski, and learn how his time at JCMU led him to find his love of Hikone, and the love of his life.


chanpon-near-campus.jpgFrom JCMU to Living in Japan
Ian Whiters, 2009-10

Did your time studying abroad catapult you to living abroad? For our fourth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2009-10 alum Ian Whiters, and learn how his time at JCMU was only just the beginning of his life with Japan.


10.jpgDare to Dream
Greg Werner, 2003-04

Did studying in help you achieve your dreams? For our fifth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2003-04 alum Greg Werner, and discover his longtime dedication to Japan led him to reaching two of his loftiest lifelong goals.


september-2013-newsletter1.jpgPhoto Finish
Conrad Louis-Charles, 1989-90

What lessons did your time abroad teach you? For our sixth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 1989-90 alum Conrad Louis-Charles, and discover how the life skills he learned in Japan continues to impact his photography career.


patrick-3.jpgDiscovering the Real Japan
Patrick Mercer, 2014-15

Why did you decide to study abroad? For our seventh installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2014-15 alum Patrick Mercer, and learn how his multiple trips to Japan helped him discover Japanese culture and his love of international education.


12307582_1195884020425756_88233979675144208_o.jpgHow JCMU Changed My Life
Nick Chang, Fall 2015

How did study abroad transform you? For our eighth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of fall 2015 alum Nick Chang, and discover how his time in Hikone led him on a journey that would take him to a prestigious graduate school in California.


6.jpgParadigm Shift
David Janes, Summer 1993

Did study abroad completely change your goals? For our ninth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of summer 1993 alum David Janes, and discover how his time at JCMU pushed him to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Japan.


victor-berry-3.jpgThe Journey That Never Ends
Victor Berry, Fall 1998

Did your time exploring a new culture help you grow as a person? For our tenth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of fall 1998 alum Victor Berry, and discover how his time abroad challenged his views of Japan – helping him grow as a result.


Capture.jpgForever, For Always, For Love
Elycia Cook, 1989-90

What pushed you to study abroad? For our eleventh installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the experiences of 1989-90 alum Elycia Cook, and discover how her decision to study in a country she knew little of evolved into an everlasting love of Shiga.


kimono-with-host-sibling.jpgThe New Kids in School
MSHSE Class of 2017

Did you explore another culture while in high school? For our twelfth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read about the Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange class of 2017, and learn about how international experiences aren’t just for college students.


Conti.jpgReturn Trip
Andrew Conti, 1990-91

Have you returned to Shiga? For our thirteenth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read about 1990-91 alum Andrew Conti’s return to Hikone, and discover how no matter how much the world changes from year-to-year, some things never change.


onsen-tripVivid and Quaint
Robert McEwen, Summer 2011

Was Shiga’s countryside location special to you? For our fourteenth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of summer 2011 alum Robert McEwen, and discover how being away from the big cities gave him a new outlook on Japan.


Crystal.jpgHikone, Together (part 1)
Crystal Amend, 2000-01

Will your memories of Hikone last till death do you part? For the fifteenth installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2000-01 alum Crystal Amend, and discover how in Shiga she found a new family, a new language – and her second half.


festival.pngHikone, Together (part 2)
Corey Amend, 2000-01

How many amazing things did you experience while at JCMU? For the sixeenth installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2000-01 alum Corey Amend, and discover how in Shiga he found a new culture, a new language – and his second half.


tej.jpgPreparing for the Future
Cassie Walker, Summer 2017

How did JCMU help shape your future? For the seventeenth installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of JCMU 2017 Teaching English in Japan (TEJ) alum Cassie Walker, and learn how JCMU gave her the courage to reach her goals.


christopher-symons-michigan-state-university-english-educatuion-2.jpgLife as a Buddhist
Japanese Religion & Art Class of 2015

Have you ever wondered what life in a Buddhist temple is like? For our eighteenth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of the 2015 Japanese Religions and Art May short course, and learn how they wound up living together with Buddhists.


22220046_1551935608163240_1399749833930071961_o-1.jpgLeap of Faith
Aaron Eastwood, Fall 2017

Study abroad can be like leaping into the great unknown – especially for LGBTQ+ students. For our nineteenth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of fall 2017 Aaron Eastwood, and discover why he encourages you to be yourself at JCMU.


Be Yourselfsikora-joey-5.jpg
Joey Sikora, 2017-18

What was it like interacting with people in Japan for you? For our twentieth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2017-18 student Joey Sikora, and discover why he encourages future JCMU students to “not forget your roots.”


Host family.jpgEyeless in Japan
Joseph Erobha, Fall 2016

There is nothing comparable to immersing yourself in a foreign culture. For our twenty-first installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of fall 2016 Joseph Erobha, and learn why he wants others that studied abroad to be the change our world needs.


img_20180408_134414223_burst001.jpgHome Sweet Hikone
Bridget Hanchek, 2017-18

Did you find a place to belong in Japan? For the twenty-second installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2017-18 alum Bridget Hanchek, and discover how Hikone became a home away from home.


1923551_506171725961_9265_n1Returning to JCMU as a Professional
Eric Michaelsen, 2007-08

Did your professional career take you back to JCMU? For our twenty-third installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2007-08 alum Eric Michaelsen, and learn how his career as an acupuncturist gave him a chance to travel once more to Hikone.


nara-deer.pngSecond Time Just as Charming
Nina Dermody, 2014+2017

What were your favorite places to visit in Japan? For the twenty-fourth installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2014 and 2017 alum Nina Dermody, and discover just some of the amazing sites she had the chance to experience.


38218401_1835836093163967_2888516006509019136_n (1).jpgTrials and Miscommunications
Rachel Stacey, Summer 2017

How did you work through the highs and lows of study abroad? For the twenty-fifth installment in our “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2017 alum Rachel Stacey, and discover why she wouldn’t trade her time in Hikone for anything – despite the ups and downs.


karlo-1Self Discovery
Karlo Lagapa Delos Angeles, Summer 2014-15

Why did you study abroad in Hikone? For our twenty-sixth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read the story of 2014-15 alum Karlo Lagapa Delos Angeles, and discover why he says “learning in Japan will change your views of the world for the better!”


justin-choe.jpgI Hated JCMU
Justin Choe, 2008-09

Despite the ups and downs, your time in Shiga will stay with you for a lifetime. For our twenty-seventh installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read 2008-09 alum Justin Choe’s journey, and see why he says you’ll grow and make lifelong friends at JCMU.


anderson-3.jpgMission Accomplished
Joshua Anderson, Fall 2014

What goals did you set for yourself during your time in Japan? For our twenty-eighth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read fall 2014 alum Joshua Anderson’s thoughts on the program, and discover how he achieved both of his objectives at JCMU.


p1030961.jpgUp Through the Mountains
Olena Zozulevich, Summer 2014

What one memory of your time in Japan stays with you the most? For our twenty-ninth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, walk along with summer 2014 alum Olena Zozulevich during her long and tiring, but unforgettable trek up Kōyasan.


McCracken and Melville.jpgMaking the Right Choice
Ben McCracken, 1998-99

How different would your life be today if you didn’t study in Japan? For our final installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read how 1998-99 alum (and current JCMU Resident Director) Ben McCracken nearly ended up on a completely different path in life.