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Preparing for New Adventures in Japan

Amaya Apolinario spotlight

Amaya Apolinario has undeniably made the most of her four years at Lehigh. The senior, who hails from the small town of Clinton, North Carolina, will graduate in May with a double major in English and Japanese. In addition to her rigorous course load, Apolinario is also involved with several noteworthy organizations on campus: as a TRAC Fellow, she tutors fellow students in writing, she serves as the Secretary of the intercultural literary journal International Voices, and she is a member of Lehigh’s renowned marching band, Marching 97.

Apolinario has known for some time now that her passion for Japanese language and culture would play a significant role in her life. She has always had an affinity for languages, and although she briefly studied Spanish in middle school, she did not quite take to it. After taking just one Japanese course in high school, however, she interestingly found it much easier to learn than Spanish. Upon arriving at Lehigh, she decided to devote herself to studying the language and learning it fluently. Japanese is not an easy language to master. “Some of the challenges of learning Japanese have been adapting to the different grammatical structure and starting to think in Japanese,” explains Apolinario.  

This past year, Apolinario was accepted to the competitive Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. With more than 55 countries around the world currently participating, JET offers a unique cultural exchange opportunity to meet people from all around the world, living and working in Japan. It is the only teaching exchange program managed by the government of Japan. As an Assistant Language Teacher for JET, Apolinario will embark this summer on a year-long stay in Japan, serving as an aid to a Japanese educator teaching English to K-12 students.

While Apolinario does not yet know where exactly in Japan she will be, JET will likely assign her to a rural area of the country where she will be given her own apartment to live among the local residents. While there, she hopes to use the time to improve her Japanese as well as immerse herself in the country’s culture. She looks forward to truly making a difference in the lives of the Japanese students she will be instructing.

 “Amaya is the kind of student who you love to have in your class: thoughtful, creative, and responsible,” says Ed Whitley, professor and chair of English. “Not only that, but Amaya is a generous classmate to her peers. Her comments during class discussion always move the conversation forward in productive ways, and her participation in group activities elevates the quality of work that gets produced. She's a perfect fit for an international teaching program like JET, and I'm sure that she'll make Lehigh proud.”

As for her plans after JET, Apolinario expects to return to the East Coast, most likely either North Carolina or Pennsylvania, where she will either attend graduate school for literature or use her language translation skills as a copywriter for an advertising company. Wherever this talented student lands, she is sure to leave her mark.  

Spotlight Recipient

Amaya Apolinario spotlight

Amaya Apolinario

English and Japanese double major

Article By:

Cindy Breme