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Featured Spotlight Interview

Yoshihiro Mochizuki
Japanese Language Lecturer

How does your work engage with DEI topics? Could you share a particular story related to your work in DEI?

As a Japanese language teacher at the University of Michigan, my journey in DEI education has been a profoundly enriching experience that reaches far beyond the classroom. In 2023, I had privilege of speaking at various conferences and teacher training workshops, including delivering a keynote address at the fourth Northwest Conference on Japanese Pedagogy hosted by the University of Washington. This milestone allowed me to advocate for the profound importance of DEI and social justice in Japanese language education.

Through these experiences, I have come to a profound realization: while children and students often readily embrace DEI principles, having grown up in an era where these concepts are more ingrained in education, our primary focus must be on the education of adults, particularly educators themselves.

During my presentations and workshops, I have engaged with educators, many of whom have decades of experience. They raise questions that sometimes reveal unconscious biases or microaggressions. Yet, they openly admit feeling out of touch with the ever-evolving landscape of diversity and inclusion. They express genuine concerns about their ability to relate to and support students from diverse backgrounds.

This interaction spotlights a substantial challenge faced by educators today, a reminder that the world is in constant flux, and it is our shared responsibility as educators to adapt alongside it. These encounters are what drive my passion for DEI education. My work extends beyond the classroom, aiming to bridge the gap between theory and practice, guiding fellow educators toward inclusivity, understanding, and social justice.

As we move forward, it is imperative to recognize that fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion is not solely the responsibility of students but a collective endeavor that starts with us, the educators.

In conclusion, my journey in Japanese language education has taught me that the true power of DEI education lies in its ability to transform educators. This transformation, in turn, shapes a more inclusive future for our students. Embracing DEI principles enriches not only our teaching but also our society as a whole. Together, as a community of educators dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we take significant strides toward creating a more just and inclusive world, one classroom at a time.