Misaki Shimada “You don’t want to be stuck with people just like you. You want to go to college with lots of different people.”

For Misaki Shimada, world traveler, avid skier, golf aficionado and SMC Japanese instructor—the traditional and tightly structured society of his homeland Japan could not accommodate his thirst for exploration and cultural diversity. “I was kind of a rebel,” he admits. “Japan is the ultimate conservative society. I just didn’t fit into the system. And you either fit in or you’re out.”

So “out” was the route Misaki took when, in spite of being accepted to prestigious colleges in Japan, he opted to pursue his studies in America’s heartland instead. Four and a half years later he received his bachelors degree from Wichita State University and followed it up with a masters in linguistics from the University of Kansas. He then moved to Washington State for his PhD work and, while still working on his dissertation, accepted his SMC assignment last fall.

“I love it here,” says Misaki. “We have so much diversity in our student body as well as in the faculty and not only from the viewpoint of ethnicity, race and culture but also age, gender and sexual orientation. Everyone’s included. It’s different than in Japan and different from Central Washington University.”

Misaki says that most of his students are business and economics majors who take Japanese because of an interest in Japanese business. In the classroom he therefore focuses not just on teaching the language but on expanding his students’ understanding of Japanese culture. “I like my students to become familiar with different views,” he says. “There’s so much growth in the students during a semester, it’s really exciting. Not only the knowledge grows but the person. Because I emphasize different views, my students become more ready to adopt other points of view. Their minds grow.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.