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Japanese studies Outreach event: Language, Culture and Careers

27th November 2018

On the 16th November 2018, Pembroke College welcomed fifteen Year 12 students from Dartford Grammar School (DGS) for a packed day of lectures, college tours, informal discussions and activities to share what its like to study Japanese at Oxford.

Based in Kent, DGS has a diverse student body and boasts one of the highest numbers of secondary school Japanese learners in the UK, with over 80 students in the Sixth form studying the language.

Despite the popularity of Japanese and fascination with the country’s cultural exports, very few students opt to pursue a university degree in Japanese Studies due to a lack of knowledge about the course, and most significantly, future career prospects.

Pembroke is committed to widening participation in Japanese Studies. In particular, we have identified the importance of raising awareness of the career opportunities available to graduates of Japanese Studies programmes. For example, Pembroke recently supported the creation of the “Careers with and in Japan Seminar” – the first of its kind – for Oxford Japanese studies students. Gathering all of the 3rd and 4th years, the first session hosted by Pembroke College on the 8th November 2018 was a great success and will be incorporated into the Japanese undergraduate and master’s degree programmes from next year.

‘I want to shift the narrative around Japanese Studies. Yes, Japan’s engaging pop culture is a fantastic initial hook, but we must strive to go beyond the cultural pull when appealing to students and parents across diverse communities in the UK. Our message should be that Japanese Studies is also empowering,’ said 2nd Year DPhil History student Warren Stanislaus, the organiser of these new initiatives.

Warren added: ‘That’s exactly what we did for the DGS visit. We demonstrated that learning Japanese can open exciting new doors and Japan can serve as a lens to explore wider global challenges such as the fourth industrial revolution or ageing societies.’

The day began with an eye-opening examination of post-3.11 disaster literature by Dr Linda Flores, Pembroke Senior Fellow and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Oriental Institute. Other sessions delivered by postdocs and undergraduates explored: gap years, earning money as a Japan-vlogger on YouTube, iconicity in manga, a year abroad in Japan, studying a subsidiary language, personal statement tips, advice on independently studying Japanese, life at Oxford and college tours.  

‘The level of interest in the trip was high – we were oversubscribed! This was a wonderful opportunity for my students to get a taste of university life, as well as explore the many opportunities studying Japanese can open up to young people,’ said Katy Simpson, teacher of Japanese at DGS.

One of the participating DGS students commented, ‘It was inspiring! The visit showed me a variety of ways that you can study Japanese and the different paths it can take you down in the future.’

To view the full itinerary of the day, please click here.

With special thanks to:

Organiser: Warren A. Stanislaus (Pembroke College, 2nd Year History DPhil and President of the Oxford Alumni Club of Japan)

Senior Fellow Overseeing the Event: Dr Linda Flores (Pembroke College, Associate Professor of Japanese and Tutorial Fellow at Pembroke)

Academic Lecturers: Dr Laurence Mann (Pembroke College, Junior Research Fellow in Japanese); Dr Mateja Kovacic (Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow)

Undergraduate Volunteer Presenters: Hannah Kentridge (Pembroke College, Finalist); Dominic Oben (Pembroke College, 3rd Year); Matthew Day (Balliol College, Finalist); Gabrielle Mallett (Queen’s College, 3rd Year); Shreya De Sousa (Queen’s College, 3rd Year); Matthew Chow (Wadham College, 1st Year)