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Jordan Cleland, BA, 2020

Field of Study: B.A. in Asian Studies, B.A. in Political Science

Graduation Year: 2020

When I came to Ann Arbor in the summer of 2015 for new student orientation, I knew I wanted to study political science. I was confident my academic journey would culminate with me pursuing a career in American politics. It is not an exaggeration to say my first week on campus, the trajectory of my study, and life, changed. It just so happened that my peer advisor, a current student to help new students pick their classes, was a Japanese major. To me, this is where the stars aligned.

After discussing if I knew much about Japan (I didn't), we picked my elective class: a course about analyzing Japanese culture through the lens of its popular culture taught by Professor Allison Alexy. Professor Alexy's kindness and enthusiasm was infectious and she convinced me to fulfill my foreign language requirement by studying Japanese.  What would normally be a two year stint in Japanese in order to graduate developed into something deeper and turned into me pursuing a double degree in Political Science and Asian Studies. 

The ALC department is a wonderful place with fantastic staff that make your experience at U of M a magical one. Mayumi Oka, Masae Yasuda, Junko Kondo, Yoshimi Sakakibara, Ayaka Sogabe, and Yoshihiro Mochizuki impacted my academic career greatly and I owe them all very much. Their expertise led me to take all the Japanese classes I could, even doing an elective fifth year of schooling just to finish more Japanese classes. 

After graduation, I was accepted into the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). Although due to COVID departure was delayed a year and a half, I am currently living in Akita City, the capital of Akita prefecture, teaching English at two elementary schools. After working and living in Japan for a few years, I would like to pursue a career in American-Japanese international relations. Without the stellar instruction I received at the University of Michigan, none of this could have been possible. Thank you so much ALC, and go blue!