1. Where are you currently working and what are you working on?
I am an Assistant Professor in the Languages, Literatures & Cultures Department at SUNY New Paltz. We just had our last day of classes, which means that I’ve spent a lot of my time in the last year trying to keep up with teaching and all the other duties that come with becoming a faculty member. I will be finding some time to decompress and get back to writing this summer. I’ve got an article on novelist Murakami Haruki in the works, and my dissertation has been waiting since last summer for me to revisit it. I think it’s just about time.
2. How was the move to a new city and how are you adjusting to a new life?
Last summer my wife, toddler and I drove in our 1992 Volvo station wagon from Vancouver all the way to New Paltz, which is about 150 km north of NYC. After that long journey, we went about getting settled. New Paltz is a small town known for its college and access to outdoor activities, and it’s a great place to be. Having said that, we miss UBC and Vancouver. NYC is not too far away, but it’s definitely less convenient than jumping on the Skytrain or a bus and getting anywhere in Vancouver in a half hour or less. And there’s no Asian food to speak of (but the pizza is great). We’ll be doing more exploring this summer — for the first year we were just trying to figure out what’s what. Beyond those things, we are still getting used to the east coast vibe (and the snow).
3. What is the most exciting experience you had while studying in UBC Asian Studies?
Graduating last November was exciting, but if I had to pick something from my studies at UBC, I would say it was always exciting when we brought in special guest speakers or hosted conferences. As a volunteer during the 2010 Olympics I was attached to the Japanese squad, and it was a thrill to be helping out as an interpreter, driver and jack-of-all-trades at the headquarters and around town. I like to think that my UBC Asian Studies connections helped get me the gig.
4. Did your time at UBC prepare you for your current job?
Without a doubt, my UBC experiences prepared me for my current job (to the extent that anyone is prepared for the whirlwind of being a first-year Assistant Professor). I have been surprised by just how much I dig into my comps, coursework and other materials that I thought I might never look at again. The connections I made thanks to UBC’s place as an Asian Studies hub has helped, too. And of course I cannot give enough thanks to my advisor, Sharalyn Orbaugh, and the rest of the Asian Studies faculty, staff and graduate students for the help with professional development. In the year before leaving UBC I was given a chance to teach as a sessional instructor, and I learned after joining SUNY that that experience was critical in my making my way into the interview process for my current position.
5. Do you have any advise for students hoping to follow in your footsteps?
A few things: Keep all that work you’re doing as a graduate student — it’ll be useful later. Get out and network. As they say, “it’s who you know.” and while there are no shortcuts in our profession, you can benefit immensely from conferencing and participating in events on campus. Check out guest speakers visiting UBC, even if the person isn’t in your field, and look for opportunities to do guest lectures of your own for Asian Studies faculty members. Be proactive, but don’t feel as though you need to race through your program. Take advantage of the time you have to build your profile. To throw out another saying, “slow and steady wins the race.” Finally, you probably won’t be in Vancouver forever — enjoy it!