Students fascinated in Japanese culture and language recently turned their interest group into an official student organization.
The interest group has been on campus for the past five years, but very few people have known of its existence. Now that the Japan Club is an official organization, on-campus students will be able to recruit more members and educate them about Japanese culture and language.
Associate Professor of History and adviser of the Japan Club Dr. Mary Louise Nagata explained how the club was formed.
“After students would take my History of Modern Japan course that I taught, they would often want to know how to speak and write the Japanese language,” Nagata said. “I took it upon myself to teach the students the Japanese language and culture.”
Francis Marion offers three modern language courses – Spanish, German and French – but does not offer an Asian language.
A small group of students began gathering in a classroom, and Nagata informed them about the Japanese language, culture and history. She taught the students how to prepare an authentic Japanese meal and exposed them to Japanese films, plays and comedies along with music and games.
Nagata moved to Japan after graduating high school to participate in teacher training in the Suzuki Violin. She later married her husband, a Japan airline employee, 35 years ago. The couple lived in Japan periodically for the past 35 years and still maintains a permanent residence in the country. Her experiences in Japan have made her somewhat of an expert on the country’s culture and language. While living there, Nagata taught herself the language in order to better assimilate to the country.
Now that the club is an official organization, the members look forward to expanding its current membership. They hope to do this through various fundraisers and events for students that will teach them about the things that make Japan a special and unique place. The club is looking forward to having a Japanese t-shirt design contest and also taking a trip to the Florence Museum to view Japanese artifacts.
Ashley Burton, president of the Japan Club, expressed her joy about helping getting the Japan Club started as an official organization.
“I wasn’t able to find any information about a Japan Club on FMU’s website, and that became my purpose once I transferred here: to start a Japan club,” Burton said. “But once I got here I was informed that there was a group of students gathering together as a club, and I took the initiative to help get the club on its feet and to become official. I’m excited about the club because this is what I am interested in.”
Burton went on to say that she is looking forward to what the Japan Club can offer students.
“The club will increase the awareness of Japanese language, culture and history at the university and the city of Florence,” Burton said.
Membership for the Japan Club is open to all FMU students with an interest in Japanese culture and language. Interested students can contact Dr. Nagata, or join the FMU Japan Club on Facebook for more information. Meetings are held every Friday at 2:30 p.m. in FH 210.