I am applying for the Gilman Scholarship in order to participate in San Antonio College’s Language and Culture in Japan, study abroad program. Upon my completion of this program I will be awarded the final credit needed in order to complete my degree. I will be graduating with two Associate’s degrees: one in Art, and one in International Studies with a focus on the Japanese language. My education and career goals involve transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio where I will major in International Relations, so that I can one day teach English as a second language in Japan. By merging both my passion for art and learning about different cultures, I intend to publish illustrated books about my experiences teaching and traveling abroad. My main focus right now is finishing my education, before I commit to a career or start a family.
Participating in this program is more than just a chance to immerse myself in their culture. This is the once in a lifetime opportunity that I have been anticipating for over a decade. I first fell in love with Japan during middle school. Japan’s honorable core values such as omoiyari (to notice and think of others), diligence in pursuing knowledge, appreciation for the beauty of art, and regard for group success over one’s own investments, really resonated with me. I became enthralled and connected with their culture through their music, movies, art, traditions, folktales, and history. It was all so distinctively different from my own. I truly do experience happiness by helping others and believe in a better future where, rather than competing with each other, everyone works together towards a common goal. I began teaching myself this critical needs language every chance I had, and once I entered college, took the first opportunity to enroll in an actual Japanese language course.
After receiving credit for the first and second level courses, I transferred to San Antonio College in order to enroll in the advanced Japanese classes. This opportunity to explore the complex and fascinating “land of the rising sun” is faculty-led by my Japanese language Professor Yuko Kawabe, and international exhibiting artist and faculty member of the fine arts department, Professor Sabra Booth. The purpose of this particular study abroad is to explore the vast cultural diversity, modern cities, Buddhist mountain sanctuaries, feudal castles, and diverse art of Japan. I will be receiving credit for Japanese I and Art Appreciation through online assignments instructed by the aforementioned professors. I have taken many riveting art classes such as 2D and 3D design, drawing, painting, ceramics, and art history, where I participated in an internship with the McNay Art Museum during the fall of 2012. Currently I am doing volunteer work at The DoSeum, San Antonio’s Museum for Children.
By visiting both the current capital of Tokyo and the previous imperial capital of Kyoto I will be able to observe how modern day advancements mesh with ancient traditional culture in the heart of Japan. I will also be visiting many intriguing local districts and prefectures. What I am looking forward to most though, is meeting my host-family and experiencing their daily life through a short home-stay in Kyoto. I am also immensely looking forward to seeing unique art forms such as ukiyo-e styled woodblock prints and inspirational paintings by Seiki Kuroda and Naojiro Harada, found in the many museums we will be visiting. Experiencing my first traditional Kabuki play, and being able to see the historic and iconic Mt. Fuji, Golden Pavilion, and Nijo Castle in person, are also definite highlights of this program.
As a tactile learner, studying abroad allows me the means to apply all that I have learned in the classroom, through firsthand experience. I am the first of my family to study abroad, and have never traveled outside of the U.S. before. This experience will ensure that I have a deeper understanding and appreciation, for diverse cultural concepts that could not truly be experienced in a classroom setting. I will need all the experience I can get before I begin teaching abroad. This program is sure to enhance my academic and career opportunities through building friendships and networking. I am sure to gain confidence and notice a change in myself, as well as obtain a new perspective on the world around me. Engaging in conversations with locals will improve my comprehension skills. I cannot emphasize enough the impact that improving my proficiency in the language, and familiarizing myself with their daily customs, will have on my career goals. I must be able to “read the situation” and communicate in Japanese first, in order to ensure my future students the best opportunities to learn.
Coming from an honest, hardworking middle class family has given me many opportunities. During 2008, the People to People Student Ambassador Program presented me with the opportunity to travel to Japan. However due to financial reasons, I was not able to go, even though I had been accepted. Although my family has always supported me in every way possible, and has made sure to provide me with the essentials, money has always been tight. The idea of traveling seemed unattainable without outside assistance. Family has always been very important to me because as a child, I was lucky enough to have both of my parents, grandmother, and brother all in the same home with me. That is, until I was forced to endure the loss of a parent due to colon cancer back in the fall of 2013. I am not proud of the way I handled the situation, which resulted in my absence from school, work, finance management, and other previously important aspects of my life. My grades suffered immensely, and I lost my financial aid eligibility due to my absence from school. Since then however, I have been re-approved through an appeal process. Although this may not have been the most efficient way to cope, it was the only way I was able to. Time, and the support and encouragement of my family and friends, has allowed me to once again focus on my education and the future. These experiences have helped me to mature as an adult and I am now more capable than ever of taking charge of my life. Although I will never have that part of me back again, I intend to make the most of the life I was given, and to do what I love most. For me, this includes learning about the people and art from rich diverse cultures, and giving back to them by teaching them about my own language and culture.
I am motivated in giving back to others, and creating a better future for myself and those around me. Not only will this be my first opportunity to experience a world that otherwise I would not have the means to on my own, but by putting your faith in me, you will also be contributing to the future education of many more deserving, and culturally interested minds. For these reasons, I know that I am the best candidate for the Gilman Scholarship.