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Former CHS student heading to Japan as teacher

Posted: July 15, 2011 2:56 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Michael Broderick

For Michael Broderick, it all began in his SEAGUL class.

What started just as lessons about Japanese culture went on to become a life-long interest in Japanese culture for the then third-grade Midway Elementary School student.

“I remember thinking that it was super-cool at the time,” Broderick said. “I just thought that the language was fascinating. I even had a skateboard that I wrote Japanese characters on.”

From there, his desire to learn more about Japanese culture never waned.

As a high school student at Camden High School, Broderick began researching opportunities to work in Japan.

As an undergraduate student at the College of Charleston (CofC), he studied Japanese for two and a half years, and also took several classes that explored Japanese history, literature, culture, politics and religion.

Now, the 2010 CofC graduate who earned degrees in Anthropology and Religious Studies and a minor in Asian Studies is finally going to Japan.

Broderick was recently selected to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. He’s scheduled to leave Saturday.

“It’s been weird, because this has been something that I’ve aspired to for a while … and it’s still a little surreal that I was even selected,” he said.

As part of JET, Broderick will have the opportunity to be completely immersed in Japanese culture as an assistant language teacher in Ichinohe, Japan.

“Ichinohe is a small town of about 14,000 people. I’ll work at three schools, a junior high school and two elementary schools,” he said, teaching English in the schools. “And at night, I’ll tutor adults.”

While he’s scheduled to leave America in only a few days, Broderick said getting to this point was a long and drawn-out process.

After submitting his application in November, it wasn’t until early February that Broderick learned he was selected for an interview in early March.

An estimated 1,400 people were selected for interviews out of as many as 6,000 applications. Broderick said he was already elated to have gotten an interview, so when he found out in early May that he was selected to go, he was shocked.

“I was thrilled. I was excited enough to just get the interview,” he said. “So when I found out I was going, I was pretty speechless.”

While this isn’t his first time traveling abroad -- he previously studied abroad in India during the summer of 2008 and in the Dominican Republic in 2007 -- Broderick admits he is feeling a bit of apprehension about his impending trip.

“There’s definitely a combination of emotions, and there’s definitely a little apprehension,” he said. “There’s some barriers that I’ll encounter, but this is really a wonderful learning experience. I just finished college, and this could be the foundation to my future career path.”

Since telling his friends and family the good news, Broderick said, many of them were concerned about him possibly being affected by radiation stemming from the country’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Ichinohe is located several hundred kilometers away from most of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami. Broderick said the area where he will be living hasn’t been greatly affected.

“So that’s been a relief for my family, especially for my mother and grandmother,” he said.

Broderick said he’s only contracted to work in Japan for a year, but hopes to renew that contract as many times as possible.

“I just want to have a huge impact. I kind of want to be an ambassador for the United States. I want to represent the United States well, and hopefully teach them about our culture as well,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in going to Japan, so I’m just really thrilled right now.”

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