Recently, JCMU met up with Emily Canosa, an JCMU alumna and the current Outreach Coordinator for the University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies (CJS). We reconnected with Emily and asked her about what her experiences were like with JCMU, and how they helped her in reaching many of her professional and academic goals.
What is your name, and what JCMU program did you participate in?
My name is Emily Canosa, and I participated in the JCMU fall semester Japanese Language and Culture program in 2005.
How and why you did you come to participate at JCMU?
I began studying Japanese in middle school and continued when I went to the University of Michigan. I was in a learning community with additional language requirements, and chose to complete the requirement through study abroad because I really wanted to have that experience. Money was also very tight for me, and for a UM student there are funding sources available to support study abroad, and the tuition at JCMU is actually less expensive than the cost of a semester at UM.
How did JCMU benefit your future aspirations?
My experience at JCMU was important to building an experiential understanding of another country and culture. I loved every moment of my life and studies while at JCMU–by the end of the semester I was actually brainstorming ways to stay in Hikone. I ended up coming home, but during my stay there I had met people teaching English in Japan through a company called ECC, and I decided then that I wanted to work there after I graduated college. I began teaching with ECC in the Tokyo area in 2008.
What did you do after JCMU, and what are you doing now?
After JCMU I realized how little I knew about my own country. I ended up taking my next semester off of school to work and save up money to road trip across the US with two friends. After returning to school, I completed my undergraduate degrees in History of Art and Arts & Ideas in the Humanities and moved to Chiba Prefecture to teach English with ECC. Once my contract was up I wanted to stay in Japan but leave the Tokyo area, so I moved to a Permaculture Ecovillage Farm on the base of Mount Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture, where my interest in and love of food and ecological systems truly deepened.
After returning to the US I started a Master’s degree at the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, with an initial focus in art history that later transformed into a thesis on sustainable food movements in the Kanto region. I also benefitted from working closely with the curator of Asian Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art during my graduate studies. I later worked as a farmer in Detroit and a lecturer in art history of Asia at the College for Creative Studies. I also spent a year as a Japanese to English translator.
Currently I continue to teach with the College for Creative Studies, and also work as the UM Sustainable Food Program Manager and Center for Japanese Studies Community Outreach Coordinator. Look for Ann Arbor Japan Week, the new annual summer event series I help coordinate with the Center for Japanese Studies. All events and activities are free and open to the public, and this year’s Japan Week will run from June 20th-26th.
What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?
JCMU changed my life, and if you go it will change yours too! I recommend taking advantage of extracurricular opportunities to engage with the community while you’re there, and JCMU provides many of these and also will support you in exploring and developing your own ways to explore your interests.
JCMU would like to thank Emily for her time, and we hope that her words help push more students to become global citizens and study abroad! We encourage those interested in learning more about the University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies to visit their website here! The CJS “promotes and disseminates research on Japan, fosters communication among diverse disciplines, and encourages new approaches in the understanding of Japan and its place in the world.”