Personal Statement for the Kyoto Program

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I am excited to submit my application for the Summer 2014 Kyoto study abroad program through the City University of New York. I grew up with a strong sense of heritage and confidence. Even from a young age, I had a vested interest in Japanese culture and language. In part, I blame my name. My parents gave me the middle name “Yama” with a very specific purpose in mind. The name means “mountain,” because they wanted me to grow up with strength and stability. This is what led me to take an interest in learning how to write Japanese. 

As time went on, my passion only grew and expanded to include other cultures and languages. I’ve learned various languages throughout my middle school, high school, and college years, including Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Because of my school setting (Harlem, New York City), I rarely had the opportunity to learn Japanese in a class setting. However, I took the initiative to learn the language independently. 

As I jumped from college to college, I saw Japanese as a passionate hobby, rather than a viable career goal. This changed, however, when I enrolled at the City University of New York. While I see self-teaching as a great first step, I began to realize that I needed a full program in order to fully grasp specifics like proper stroke order and pronunciation. I also realized from years of studying languages that I had the confidence to pursue what brings me so much joy. This is what led me to study my ‘first love’ (Japanese) at CCNY by majoring in Asian Studies. 

I plan to graduate from CCNY with a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies and continue to pursue my passion for Japanese studies. After graduating, I plan to participate in the JET (Japan Education & Teaching) Program through the State Department. The Kyoto program would be a great step toward pursuing this specific career goal of becoming a full-time English teacher in Japan. Even more specifically, this study abroad program would assist in completing my degree requirements. 

On a personal note, I want to become an English teacher in Japan to instill the same drive and passion that I have for language learning. I want to be someone who pushes Japanese students to reach higher and higher. This study abroad program is the first step in accomplishing this goal, as it will assist me in becoming fluent in Japanese. I strongly believe that one must immerse oneself fully into the environment of the language they are learning to truly master the language. Only in this way, does one continually hear and speak the language they wish to become proficient in. This is precisely what the CCNY program will help me to achieve.

I am certain that the Kyoto Summer 2014 program will supplement my professional, academic, and personal goals. The program’s unique combination of language and culture studies is precisely what interests me as I seek to expand and complement my knowledge of both traditional and contemporary Japan. Spending two months in Japan will prepare me to graduate with a fuller grounding in Asian Studies and allow me to represent the University through the JET Program. Furthermore, I am confident that I will be a valuable addition to the program. I have the unique background of both Asian Studies and independent language studies, as mentioned earlier.

 I look forward to living, studying, and learning in Kyoto. Studying in a place like Ritsumeikan University’s Kinugasa Campus is the chance of a lifetime for a student of Asian Studies, and I am excited to participate and contribute to this unique environment of education and research. I am ready and willing to put my all into this program, and I am excited about the opportunity to do so.