How a nation over 6,000 miles away shaped his Wabash experience

Off the coast of the Asian continent lies an island nation that has been thriving with culture since prehistoric times. Japan is still a cultural centerpiece throughout the world, and its influence reaches far and wide. While this influence usually finds its way to other countries as a whole, four years ago it reached Ryan Sowers ’23.

“The summer before my freshman year, I actually had the opportunity to go to Japan as a tourist,” said Sowers. “As a result, I got really interested in the culture and I wanted to take learning Japanese more seriously than I had before high school.”

This focus set Sowers up for an interesting path at Wabash. Sowers, a Humanities major, made sure that his time here focused on Asian studies. By using the framework of the humanities major, he was able to essentially expand his Asian Studies minor into an “unoffered major.”

“With the Humanities and Fine Arts major, I was able to mainly focus on languages and cultures,” said Sowers. “I took Japanese as an independent study for two and a half years before I went abroad to continue studying the language.”

Sowers traveled to Japan twice to continue his studies in his time at Wabash, once after earning the Freeman-ASIA Scholarship which allowed him to study at Nanzan University and once after earning the Gilman International Scholarship.

“I think that actually being able to study in Japan reinforced my view of how I wanted to build on the language skills that I was already working on,” said Sowers. “I was able to improve my proficiency significantly while I was there, and because of that and the people that I met there, I became even more excited about the possibility of using the language in my future career.”

Sowers’ love for the Japanese culture and language impacted his Wabash career immensely and will continue to do so after his time at Wabash as he enters the workforce.

“I actually just signed the contract to be an assistant language teacher in Morioka, Japan, which is northern Japan,” said Sowers. “I’ll be based in a junior high school in Morioka and will visit other schools in the surrounding area for the first two years out of Wabash.”

Once Sowers finishes his teaching spree in Japan, he plans on either applying for graduate school or law school. Japan certainly has shaped Sowers’s last four years and will continue to do so as he travels to the island once again to learn about the culture and teach the locals.