Gonzaga offers a variety of language courses for students to take, including Japanese, one of the selected Asian languages offered. However, with the sudden departure of the only Japanese professor at the end of last year, the program’s future hangs in the balance.
That’s when Hiroshi Miyamoto enters.
Originally from Kyoto, Japan, Miyamoto has been living in the United States for more than 40 years. He has lived in multiple states across the country and has taught at several colleges such as Seattle Central College. He currently resides in Mill Creek, Washington.
Apart from GU, Miyamoto works at the University of Washington (UW), Olympic College and Central College. He has been teaching at UW as a Japanese professor for the past eight years.
He started working at GU at the beginning of the fall semester after seeing an online application for a Japanese professor position.
Since he lives in western Washington, Miyamoto teaches his classes remotely via Zoom. He said GU was incredibly flexible and accommodating. Coming from a larger university like UW, Miyamoto said he also likes GU’s small class sizes, which allow him to interact with his students.
“I enjoy teaching Gonzaga students because they are highly motivated and hardworking,” Miyamoto said. “With the limited amount of experience I’ve had with Gonzaga, this is my true and honest impression.”
GU offered two Japanese courses in the fall – 101 Japanese and 201 Japanese – both of which taught Miyamoto. In the spring semester, Japanese 102 and Japanese 202 will be offered to students who have taken those classes.
Higher-level language classes are often smaller in size. This past semester, only about six students
Higher-level language classes are often smaller in size. In the last semester, Miyamoto said, only about six students completed Japanese Class 201.
Going over Zoom has proven challenging at times, but she appreciated Miyamoto’s efforts to keep students engaged and help them learn throughout the semester.
“It was really cute [and] Elghero Matero said. “He was telling us about his life, he was making jokes, and he really wanted us to be involved…as much as possible in class.”
Josiah Sevoloy, a young student who studied Japanese 101 in the fall, said the class was interactive and engaging. He said that Miyamoto was always willing to explain course materials frequently in order to make sure that students fully understood what was being discussed.
“He. She [was] “It is always a pleasure to speak with Miyamoto Sensei during class,” Saifoloi said via email. “He is such a nice and funny person, and he is a very friendly teacher. At no time did I or anyone else understand a particular concept in class, [he] We had the pleasure of pausing the lesson to make sure we really absorbed the course material.”
Another aspect of teaching that Miyamoto enjoys is his ability to learn from students, which he finds intellectually stimulating and healthy for his own mindset.
Hearing from students who come from diverse backgrounds and have different experiences allows him to learn and educate himself on a regular basis, which is especially useful for working in multiple schools.
Teaching is always a job [just] I know the students are also the ones who teach [and] “Share what they know as much as I share it with students,” Miyamoto said. “It gives me more chances to see the world [and] How do they think differently. This is something I really enjoy being a teacher.”
Apart from learning the language itself, students also learn about the culture in Japan through the courses offered.
Since Miyamoto is from Japan, he loves to teach students about the food, traditions, and culture of Japan and incorporate them into his curriculum.
Under normal circumstances, Miyamoto would travel to Japan every year to see his family. However, due to COVID-19, he was unable to return for three years.
“I try to get it back every year, but because of COVID-19, the Japanese border is very strict,” Miyamoto said. “I miss him. I miss the people, the family, the food, and a whole nine yards.”
The students also said that they believed the class opened their eyes to another culture, which was incredibly helpful for those who might not know much about Japan.
“Courses like these offer students the opportunity to gain some kind of cultural competence and learn about cultures and languages outside of the Western curriculum,” Saifoloi said.
Regarding next year’s goals, Miyamoto hopes to keep GU students interested in Japanese, especially for those who might be interested in going to Japan in the future to study abroad.
“I would just like to present and share my knowledge and resources with [students] So that I can make a positive impact on their lives,” Miyamoto said. “This is the most important thing… for me.”