John Kaniaupio sends his greetings from Fukuoka, Japan! He served as a VIA coordinator for the ALC (American Language and Culture) Program in 2009. Below, he shares how the ALC program helped shape his friendships, career, and journeys.
The ALC 2009 program was an incredible opportunity for the 60 or so students from Japan and Taiwan that came to Stanford. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Stanford coordinators. In a few short weeks, although we may not have spoken the same languages and culturally may have been quite distant, I made some of the best friends in my life. Through these ties I have traveled to Taiwan and Japan and now reside in the beautiful hills of Asakura, Fukuoka.
During ALC, coordinators made sure our participants enjoyed themselves and also assisted them with their English. The experience inspired me not only to live abroad and engage in a culture that is different from my own, but also to try teaching. I got a taste of teaching in ALC– the joy that comes from having one’s students grow and understand– and wanted more. After the program, during my senior year I worked in the VIA office to become more involved in the VIA mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding. Pulled by the urge to learn more about the cultures of my newfound friends I applied and was accepted to the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program. In brief, the JET program places participants into schools throughout Japan to assist with English education. It’s very like ALC. As I look to the future, I fancy the idea of going to live in Taiwan as well, so that I can enrich myself further and hopefully continue enrich those around me too!
I believe in the importance of cross-cultural understanding, especially in our world that seems to be getting smaller every second, and in how great the VIA program is for helping to facilitate that.