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Graduate jets off to realise her Japanese dream


Sharlene King
22 March 2018

Living and working in Japan may have seemed a pipe dream for Leah Armstrong when she first studied Japanese at high school. This week, the Southern Cross University arts graduate will leave Australia to start work as an English language teacher at a university in Japan.

Leah is following in the footsteps of 12 Southern Cross graduates before her who have embarked on the same opportunity at Fukui University of Technology (FUT) located on the west (Japanese Sea) coast, north of Kyoto.

“Since year 7 or 8 it was my dream job to travel to Japan and teach English there. So it’s amazing it’s worked out so seamlessly in the end. It’s wonderful,” said the Lismore local.

“I really enjoy Japan, the culture, its people. The people are so kind and generous.

“It’s a one-year contract which can be extended up to three times. I’m not sure if I’ll stay for one year or three but it’s great to have that flexibility.”

While making the most of Japan adventure, Leah will continue her studies with Southern Cross University by starting a Master of Education online.

It’s not the first time Leah has been to Japan. With her fascination for the language and culture fuelled in those teenage years, Leah joined her high school peers on a two-week study aboard trip.

Then as part of her Southern Cross arts degree, Leah was awarded a six-month exchange to Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo in 2015. Not only did she achieve outstanding results, but the time in Japan was a defining and valuable experience for Leah, confirming her love of Japan and desire to work and live there.

“My studies at AGU allowed me to expand my knowledge of Japan. I immersed herself in the Japanese culture and made many lifelong friends, exploring Tokyo, Kyoto and Yamanashi,” she said.

“I loved everything about it. I loved the culture and I loved the landscape, the history. Everything was amazing.”

Since 1996, Southern Cross University’s Japanese language lecturer Ms Tazuko McLaren OAM has encouraged and mentored 13 students to pursue the English language teaching role at FUT in the Special Program for English Communication unit. The unit is offered to engineering students in Japan to nurture English proficiency and improve their overall communication skills to ensure success in the international scene.

“Leah is such a positive, open-minded, friendly and adventurous student,” said Ms McLaren. “I am sure that she will enjoy and develop further her teaching career at the FUT.”