Notes from the Center

Hiroko Harada, Director

Hiroko Harada,

Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

I joined the UAA community in 1998 and have been Coordinator of the Japanese Program in the Department of Languages since. I also served as Chair of the Department of Languages from 2003 to 2009, and am currently also a member of the Municipality of Anchorage Sister Cities Commission representing Chitose, Anchorage's sister city in Japan. I am also a first violin player in the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

Monty took a special course entitled Bushido, which I offered in Spring 2009. That summer, he left for Rikuzentakata, Japan, as an English teacher through the JET Program. Soon he was known as 'Monty-sensei'. He was well versed in Japanese culture. A student in Monty's adult English class wrote how deeply he was impressed with Monty's knowledge on "Bushido."

The author of Bushido is Inazo Nitobe, a well-known Japanese diplomat and politician during the pre-war period. He is known for his dream, "I wish to serve as a bridge over the Pacific Ocean." This is exactly what Monty was trying to achieve. It is my earnest hope to continue to fulfill his dream as much as possible through this Center, and I am honored to serve as the first Director of the Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Language & Culture for this purpose.

Steven Wilson, Coordinator

 Steven Wilson,
Former Coordinator

B.A. in Japanese, University of Alaska Anchorage

JET Program Alumnus 2009-2012

I graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Japanese Language from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2007. Since then I had taught English on the JET Program in Akita Prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan from 2009 to 2012.

Before graduation from university, I had the pleasure of knowing and studying along with my friend Monty Dickson. In September 2009, Monty and I set off on the JET Program to teach English in Northern Japan. Then on March 11, 2011,  the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami took place. When I visited Rikuzentakata, where Monty had lived, after the great tsunami, I was greatly struck by the amount of respect and affection the community had for Monty and what a great teacher and community member he was. It made me realize how important one individual can be towards grassroots internationalization between our countries of Japan and America.

It is with this realization that I hope to serve as first Coordinator for the Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Language & Culture to help strengthen bonds between our fine State of Alaska and Rikuzentakata and Japan.

It is with bittersweet feelings that I will be leaving my position at the Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Language and Culture to focus on my studies. It has been my immense pleasure and honor to be with this center since its inception along with Dr. Hiroko Harada. And it has been my honor to work with community members and Japanese partners to help coordinate meaningful Japanese cultural events in Anchorage in honor of my old friend Monty Dickson. My thanks go out to all of the sponsors and advocates of this center across the state of Alaska and abroad, and I wish for nothing but the best. Thank you so much.