Author Archives: Kaitlin Mottley

What Language means for Human Relations

Language is one skill that I am extremely proud to say I have experience in. The countless courses I’ve taken and the opportunities that I have been given the privilege to take advantage of all due to my fervor for foreign language has truly shaped me into a better person, communicator, and global citizen. 

In coming to college, I knew that I could not let go of the impact that foreign language has had on my life. With that in mind, one of the best decisions I have made to date was to continue to pursue my passion in the form of a Japanese major. In addition to being extremely fulfilling personally, being a foreign language major has also given me valuable professional capabilities. One skill that I am especially proud of is my ability to engage in meaningful human relations. In learning a new language, I have learned to be patient with both myself and other learning alongside me. In this way, I have found myself quite capable of working in team environments and understanding the very humanistic aspects of working in a professional setting.

A meeting with former Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Yoshio Okawara (1919-2018). My human relations skills built through language made this possible!

Furthermore, after studying abroad for a summer in 2017, my language ability skyrocketed and so too did my capacity for compassion and understanding the value of relationships with others. After creating life-long friendships with my host-family and host-students, I found myself in a position to work in settings with diverse people with diverse backgrounds. In studying a foreign language and going abroad, I discovered that even in the workplace, people have a story to tell. Whether that story will be told in my native tongue of English or another language, my foreign language major has opened the doors for me to be able to understand no matter what.  

The Experience of a Lifetime – Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program

“Why do you wish to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program and why you are interested in the position for which you are applying (ALT or CIR)?”

There are an infinite amount of ways to change the lives of others. The ‘how’ of achieving this goal is, of course, steeped in subjectivity, but it is no secret that it can be done. In some way or fashion, everyone has experienced or will experience a life changing experience. Whether it be through the loving advice of highly valued colleague or through the discovery a particularly interesting piece of knowledge, life-changing moments can happen everyday. There is a profound beauty in these moments, but such beauty is amplified when you are the one facilitating this change. The chance to witness how you alone have made a difference in the life of someone you care about is not only life changing for the one you care for, but for yourself as well.  The joy of knowing that you have been instrumental in someone’s life is a monumental, ongoing experience that never ceases to give both you and the one you’ve poured into a sense of satisfaction. This joy is precisely what can be gained as an Assistant Language Teacher through the JET program. As such, it would be a privilege to go abroad to experience said joy of bringing foreign language into the grasp of eager young students in Japan. 

Classrooms around the world are filled with excited learners who long to be engaged. Many students are in need of teachers who will be able to understand them not only academically, but personally as well in order to create a fun, appealing learning environment. In discussing ‘how’ achieving a life change is possible, for many school-age children, feeling heard and understood in the classroom can be something that gives them that sense of monumental joy.  Assistant Language Teachers in the JET program are tasked with the rewarding job of teaching young Japanese children a foreign language. Although this task can certainly be daunting for a foreign national like myself, there are several ways, through the responsibilities of this position, that I believe I can use to facilitate the joy I was long to give to students. A great example of this is through the exchange of information that will happen between my students and I. In addition to giving my students an exciting environment through which to learn English, it is also personally important for me to create an outlet for the children to learn more about my home culture and for me to learn about theirs. In this way, students will walk away from class not only having learned new words to add to their repertoire, but a new perspective on life abroad and how to apply their understanding of foreign language into an internationalized world. Exchanges like these will allow students to understand that as their teacher, I am not solely interested in them grasping the foreign language I am teaching them. Instead, they will know that I am focusing on not only on their academic performance, but their knowledge of the globalized world we live in, and the importance of acceptance of those who are different from themselves. These types of interactions will certainly be life changing for them and are just one example of how the opportunity to serve as an Assistant Language Teacher will give me an opportunity to develop students’ minds and bring them closer to the joy of having a life altering experience through learning. The honor of being able to bring this type of experience to a learner’s life alone is enough to drive me towards an opportunity to join the JET program as an ALT. 


Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad? More than you can count!

Studying abroad is, in short, an experience unlike any other. Hearing the
enthusiastic accounts of students who have studied abroad in the past is only the tipping
point of the true joy that spending time in a new place can bring. It’s only natural to hear
study abroad being described as something that will “change your life,” or “broaden your
horizon.” While these phrases may seem routine and overused, the realization of how

Learning the various ways to spell my name, Kaitlin, in a calligraphy class in Japan

true these words are only come with taking a step out of your comfort zone and going abroad.  As an example, after having spent two months in Okinawa, Japan with student  exchange organization called Youth for Understanding, I learned first-hand how these phrases are indispensable and in many ways, define my experiences overseas. One aspect of studying abroad that those who have gone abroad often gloss over, however, is the academic component. Going overseas may seem like a fun vacation during much of the time that one is away from home, but there are indeed many academic benefits.

For a student of foreign language and culture, the academic aspect of going abroad may not always be immediately apparent, especially when you’re surrounded by some of
the many beauties of a new place. Overall, the main and most important word in study abroad is study. During the time away, you must be proactive in keeping up with the classes you have to take. One thing to emphasize, however, is that learning can take place in so many more places that the classroom. This is the main reason why I believe study abroad should be a main component for those specializing in these particular subjects. Living day-to-day as a native will truly be instrumental in the learning process.

As mentioned, it is imperative that students of foreign languages and cultures go
abroad. Whether it be for a summer, a semester, or an entire year, missing that chance
would be especially disappointing. Going to a new country, especially a country with the
target language or culture you are studying is unforgettable. Speaking the language you’ve
been studying with natives, seeing right in front you the sights you’ve only seen in
pictures, and tasting the food you’ve only heard about creates an indescribable sense of
happiness and accomplishment. In fact, these types of adventures are some of the most
important for a foreign language and cultures student to take part in. Being able to test
one’s skills and improve all while being allowed to absorb culture all at the same time is
something that I think is quite beautiful. On the other side of this, the study abroad
experience won’t always be so exciting. There will surely be days when you will be
frustrated with your own language skills and may even get tired of the new sights and
foods that you were once so adamant about seeing and trying. These, however, are normal emotions, and need to be felt. I find that these feelings will, contrary to popular belief, make one even stronger in their pursuits of learning languages and cultures. No matter what, the
opportunity to study abroad is not to be missed. By the time of your departure back home,
not only will you have learned so much, but you may even have one of the exciting,
seemingly never-ending stories that previous students who studied abroad always have!



Why should YOU study languages?

Considering that I have studied Japanese now for almost seven years, it is almost
impossible for me to imagine a college education without foreign language as a part of
my curriculum. However, when coming to college without having previously studied a
new language, it may be hard to imagine why learning a brand new language is relevant
to your overall education. One may ask themselves, “I’m a biology major, why do I need
to study a language when I could be getting some of my major requirements out of the
way?” When asking yourself a question like this one, it is important to refer back to
what a liberal arts education like Emory’s is meant to be.
Emory describes liberal arts as a foundation—a platform for students to gain
understanding in fields ranging from math, science, and much more, including foreign
language. When I think of a liberal arts education, I think of the invaluable skills I will
have when I step foot outside of the college realm. No matter what type of job one finds
themselves doing after graduation, having knowledge of a language and its culture will

My friends and I in Okinawa, Japan when we all decided to match with stripes!

surely be beneficial to their line of work. Just as having some general knowledge of math, science and English will help one make educated decisions and observations in the world, so will any language skills. If you’re planning to be a doctor in the future, mastery of a language could put you at an advantage in helping non-English speaking populations near your practice. If you’re planning to become a teacher, learning a new language

could benefit you in assisting students who are learning English as a second language. In
addition to this, foreign language education allows one to subsequently learn about new cultures as well. With the understanding of a new culture, you’ll be able to better function in situations where your colleagues or associates are of different backgrounds. No matter what you plan to do, learning new languages and cultures opens so many doors of opportunity that once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin earlier.
As I mentioned earlier, it would be difficult for me to imagine an education
without a foreign language. In my experience, my skill set in Japanese and my
knowledge about the culture has exposed me to possibilities that I would have never
encountered were it not for my experience in foreign language. For example, as a
sophomore in high school, after having passionately studied for so long, I was able to take my skills abroad to Okinawa, Japan where I was able to live with a host family and
test out what I’d learned over the years. No matter how long you’ve been studying a
language, it is so rewarding to be able to travel to a new place, near or far and be able to
use use your skills. The pure joy that is felt by being able to express yourself is, I feel, the
most beautiful part about studying a foreign language. So, in thinking about why the study of foreign language and cultures is essential to a liberal arts education, I look back
on my own journey with Japanese and think about how it has shaped me into who I am
even though I have many other diverse interests. With this in mind, no matter what you
study, learning something as life-changing as a language will make you a better
learner, employee, and person overall.

My host family and I; from left to right: my oldest brother and his wife, my father, myself, and my mother.

Hello There!

My name is Kaitlin Mottley, a first-year in the Global Languages and Cultures Cohort. I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, but I have a passion for traveling and learning about global cultures. I want to continue my Japanese education here at Emory, and I am also considering a major in East Asian Studies. My passion for the Japanese language began when I was just a sixth grader and since then, I have been working hard to find ways to incorporate it into my career. Along with the wonderful professional development that the Cohort provides, I hope to build meaningful friendships and create lasting networks. I hope to see you around on campus!