Sami Mosher G'20
Class Year: 2020
Studied: Japanese cultural anthropology and linguistics (Master of Asian Studies)
Languages: Japanese & Mandarin Chinese
Teaching Japanese at Weber State University; Hopefully will be starting my PhD in Japanese folklore in Japan next year.
Japanese folklore and religion (specifically, the relationship between Japanese gods and monsters and the treatment they receive from humanity in the past and present).
You cannot learn about another culture properly without first understanding nuances of the language.
In my 2 year masters program, I studied quite a bit under Professor Azuma. His syntax and linguistics classes were indispensable in helping me improve my language skills so I could complete my research, which focused heavily on Japanese texts. As for my thesis, Professor Sasaki-Uemura was incredibly helpful in tracking my progress, helping me form my thesis, and editing my paper with me along the way. My thesis wouldn't be nearly what it is today without him!
I completed my bachelors at the U, and appreciated how many courses were offered in Asian studies.
Take a look at the courses offered, talk to the professors, think about what the Asia Center offers and what you want to do in the future, and the choice will become clear.
The path to get to where I am was certainly full of curves and backtracking. You may not always be moving forward, but you should always keep moving. My bachelor's was in Film and Animation, with my original plan being to become an animator. My parents warned me about the dangers of finding work in the art world, so I minored in Japanese to be a teacher if my career didn't work out as I had hoped. Through college and while job hunting, I worked as a banker, and later a licensed stock broker. After submitting applications to animation studios for a year, I decided that I should activate plan B. I got a job as an English teacher through the JET Program in Japan, living in a rural town in Shimane Prefecture. Living abroad improved my Japanese skills significantly, and the teaching experience only fueled my passion to teach foreign language. After two years in Shimane, I got a new job teaching English in Tochigi at Mitsubishi for a year as a contractor, after which I was contracted at Sano Nihon University College. Once my one-year assignment was complete, I applied to the U of U, knowing that the best way to continue in academia was to further my education.
Thesis: "Yokai: The Unworshipped Kami of Japan".
Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS)
Japanese, and later, Mandarin as there were no other Japanese courses left for me to take. Mandarin is useful as it helps me read older Japanese texts more fluently.
I could never have completed my masters if it weren't for FLAS. The financial support was immeasurable. A masters degree requires a lot of attention and care, which is extremely challenging while working to support oneself. It would have taken me 3-4 years to complete the degree requirements and thesis if it weren't for FLAS.
It is a fantastic opportunity, and you won't regret applying. Pay attention to detail and make it clear what your goals are.
I'd like to write my own Japanese textbook series one day. Most of the existing textbooks are lacking in some way, or are confusing/misleading about the use of the language. I also hope to lecture in Japan as a visiting professor, but that is still several years away.