Franklin Sussman '17 and Kayla Johnston Mitchell '17 with students at JFOU
J.F. OBERLIN UNIVERSITY
"I have learned to analyze each situation individually; that every interaction I encounter brings forth new opportunities to learn about a foreign culture, and in return dispel common misconceptions about my own culture."
— Sam Good, Fellow to J.F. Oberlin University 2009-2011
Whether it’s contemporary art, traditional music, business, or food, there are many avenues open to Fellows who want to dive into Japan during this two-year Fellowship. For the aspiring teacher, it also offers professional teacher training opportunities.
J.F. Oberlin is located in Machida, a city in the suburbs of Tokyo with a population of approximately 426,000. It’s a bustling place with all of the amenities of a large metropolitan area - department stores, coffee shops, dance studios – as well as mom-and-pop shops in little side streets that serve the beloved noodle dishes that keep people moving through their busy days. On the weekend, Fellows can head for the friendly sights and sounds of downtown Tokyo or nearby Yokohama.
About J.F. Oberlin University
J.F. Oberlin enrolls over 9,000 students, including about 500 international students. The university has an established reputation in English language instruction and international studies, and has a historic connection to Oberlin College through Yasuzo Shimizu, who studied at Oberlin College in the 1920s and founded J.F. Oberlin University in 1946. The bulk of students commute to this lovely campus situated on a hillside filled with cherry trees.
The Fellows have structured teaching responsibilities, conduct individual tutoring in the writing support program, and host lunchtime conversation clubs two to three days a week. The Fellows teach first-year students English conversation, writing, and reading for up to 12 hours per week. One of the outstanding features of the Fellowship at J.F. Oberlin is that the Shansi Fellows receive extensive mentoring and support within the English Language Program, which has a faculty of nearly 80 teaching professionals, including Japanese and native speakers of English.
The Fellows are also active in the International Center, where they interview students who apply to study abroad, prepare orientation materials, and meet international visitors. In 2013, they founded a club called Great Language Engagement in English (GLEE) where they worked with students to write and perform an original musical that was a creative fusion of "Journey to the West" and "The Wizard of Oz." The English Language Program is encouraging and enthusiastic about the activities that connect the Fellows’ interests to their teaching and extracurricular duties.
The university and Tokyo offer a wide range of opportunities for Shansi Fellows to pursue independent projects outside of their teaching responsibilities. In the past, Fellows have participated in graduate seminars, prepared publications for J.F. Oberlin University journals, joined taiko drumming groups, and studied traditional Japanese music. One Fellow even joined a country and western band in Tokyo!
What does a strong candidate for the Fellowship to J.F. Oberlin look like?
For this Fellowship, Shansi is looking for applicants who are attracted to teaching, passionate about intercultural sharing and learning about Japan, and who are outgoing and open to the unexpected. A strong respect for others and dependability as a teacher and co-worker are also necessary.
For past Fellows, the position at J.F. Oberlin has led to Ph.D. research on Japanese-Brazilian labor migrants, entrance to law school, and work in interdisciplinary art and teaching. One recent Fellow stayed in Tokyo to created localized translations at a video game company.
Fellows receive language training in Japan during the summer before they start their work at J.F. Oberlin University. Shansi provides support for tuition, books, travel, and living expenses during the period of the language training.
J.F. Oberlin University provides furnished apartments near the campus for the Shansi Fellows.
Incoming Shansi Fellows undertake summer language study and join J.F. Oberlin University in late August (this is the start of the second semester in Japan, where the first semester of the school year begins in April). Fellows will start the fellowship at the midpoint of the Japanese school year. Shansi Fellows have a long winter vacation and a shorter summer break.