Lindsay Brubaker ’19, an East Asian studies and environmental studies major, has received a State Department Critical Language Study award. The second-year will study Japanese in Hikone, Japan.
For as long as Brubaker can remember, she has been interested in languages. “What I really like is the simple idea that you can connect with and understand other people if you learn their language.”
She also has a particular interest in Asian countries. “My interest in Asia has always been present. My younger brother is adopted from Vietnam, and I've always wanted to learn more about his background. Then I became interested in Japan, starting with learning about the pop culture in middle school. I realized that I loved how the language sounded and wanted to learn to speak it.”
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded, overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. It was created to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and to facilitate relationship building between the people of the United States and other countries.
Brubaker applied for the CLS to build on her speaking skills outside of the classroom. “While I could have still taken Japanese language classes at Oberlin, there's a limit to how much my learning could improve in the classroom setting. This program will let me become fully immersed in the language, which I think is extremely important in improving my speaking ability, as I'll speak only in Japanese.”
For two months this summer, Brubaker will live in Hikone, Japan, a rural town in Shiga prefecture. There, she will spend 20 hours each week studying Japanese at the University of Shiga Prefecture. To bolster her language skills further, she will be paired with a university student for three hours of weekly conversation and will also stay with a host family. Along with this and taking a course on Japanese culture, she expects to gain a better understanding of the country’s customs and language.
While not studying or in the classroom, Brubaker hopes to visit some of the country’s large cities. “I want to visit lots of the shrines in Kyoto, explore Tokyo, and go to Osaka and try the food there, as well as go to the aquarium to see their whale shark, and feed the deer in Nara.”
She hopes that her experience abroad will not only fortify her language skills and cultural understanding but also give her a clear path for her life, post-college. “I mainly want to improve my speaking skills and gain confidence in my speaking. I look forward to learning more about Japanese culture and am hoping that this experience will give me a better understanding of what I want to do after college. In the future I would love to combine my interests in Japan and marine studies into my career.”