Academic Life in a Global Environment Vol. 1 “The Job” ロデリック・オベラ
The Voicers Report は、世界各地で活躍する10人のゴーゲッターで構成された The Voicers が各々の活躍の現場から情報発信をしていきます。
今回は、文学を愛し教鞭をとるアメリカ人大学教授のロデレック・オベラさんです。JET(Japan Exchange Teaching)プログラムで宮城県に３年間滞在したことのある親日家。アカデミックに世界を股にかけて活躍してきたロデリックさんならではの体験から「学び」についてレポートしていただきます。アメリカ留学を考えている方、アメリカ教育機関で働きたい方にはもってこいの情報を発信していただきます。レポートは、あえて英語のまま！辞書をひきながらでもゴーゲッターになって読破して英語の道を極めてください！
Welcome to my first report on the academic world in the twenty-first century.
Although the emphasis of my columns will be on challenges, responsibilities, and joys of being a working scholar, researcher, and teacher, I would like to approach these discussions from the more general perspective of living and working in a global environment, and how my own international experiences inform my scholarship and teaching.
In this first report, I will discuss various aspects of my job.
A little background about myself. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in English, I spent three years on the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program, living and working in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. This job gave me the opportunity to travel extensively, not only in Japan, but throughout Asia and the South Seas. As a result of these experiences, I was able to learn Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and a little Thai. I’ve also traveled in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Mexico. This international experience plays a major role in the way I perform my job.
Teaching, of course, is an integral part of any professor’s work life. I currently teach three classes per semester. Teaching responsibilities include course design (creating syllabi, choosing textbooks, designing assignments, etc.), lesson planning, grading coursework, and meeting with students during office hours. Because I work principally with students writing essays, my teaching philosophy is necessarily influenced by my international experience. For example, when evaluating and grading the work of students for whom English is not their first language, I often have to give more weight to their ideas and critical thinking, rather than errors of grammar and spelling. I also teach international students from countries all over the world, which is something for which my three years of teaching in Japan prepared me.
Professors are also usually expected to do service work as a condition of employment. This is unpaid work that comes in a few forms. Service to the department could mean serving on a hiring committee to read job applications, staffing a desk to recruit majors, or advising graduate students. Service to the university might include serving on committees with faculty from other departments, for example, an Honors Program Committee or a Study Abroad Program Committee. Service to the community could include things like charitable work, public readings, and organizing public events. I currently serve on my department’s Academic Writing Committee and my university’s International Programs Committee. Next term I will receive a course offload so that I can serve as Director of my department’s Writing Center, where students can bring their written work to a tutor and receive help. As for service to the community, I recently organized and hosted a screening of Tohoku Tomo, a documentary film about the aftermath of Japan’s 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. As a former resident of Ishinomaki City in northern Japan, I felt compelled to bring the film to our students, faculty, and the Tampa Bay area community, and I am very proud of doing this kind of volunteer service for my institution.
Along with teaching and service, professors that wish to advance their careers must conduct an active research agenda and publish books, journal articles, and book reviews regularly. My research on East/West cross-cultural exchanges in literature is heavily informed by my international experiences. Having lived and traveled abroad, and having learned foreign languages, enhances my ability to do research in these areas, as these experiences give me a greater, more nuanced understanding of my subject matter.
Finally, my job frequently involves travel, both within the United States and abroad. Usually this involves going to conferences and orally presenting research to other scholars working in similar areas or disciplines. A few of the diverse places I have presented my scholarship include Oxford University, UK; the University of Almeria, Spain; Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri; the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and the University of Washington in Seattle.
Going forward, I will take a closer look at a number of specific issues related to academia today that may help those thinking about studying abroad, graduate school, or teaching at the university level.