International Education gets celebrated at WSC

Wayne State’s Dr. Yasuko Taoka tells of her personal experience

Tarik Urvina, Staff Writer

For International Education Week Wayne State College’s Dean of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Yasuko Taoka, gave a presentation in the Gardner Hall auditorium about her experiences of moving from Japan to the states and growing up away from her native country.

Taoka talked about her time in the states when she was growing up and how her parents tried to adjust to life in America. Growing up, Taoka was more anxious about getting in trouble than her friends. Because of her Visa, she was afraid of getting deported.

“My parents were non-native speakers, so they were treated differently than I would be because I sound like a native speaker,” Taoka said. “So I think that’s actually a place where a lot of unconscious bias shows up, you treat people differently if their English sounds different.”

Taoka spoke about her encounters with other Japanese students, and how she could not really connect with them about things from Japan since she did not remember much from her short time living in Japan. On the other side, she could not relate to other American kids because, to them, she was a Japanese child.

“The other thing you realize is that a lot of times even people that are fully American and that were born here, they don’t feel like they belong either but you recognize people often feel the same way too,” Taoka said.

There were certain things in life that Taoka missed out on. When it came to choosing colleges, Taoka was afraid that her first choice would not like that she had a Visa so she settled for a different school to feel more accepted.

“Fast food places, we never went to them. I don’t think I had gone to a drive through till like after college when I got my car and I never figured out why until I realized my parents didn’t want to order through the drive-thru because they were afraid they wouldn’t be understood.”

Towards the end of the presentation, Taoka spoke of how she feels more at peace now that she’s older and does not feel so out place.

“Especially when I was a kid I felt this kind of longing, and maybe it’s because of the internet now I don’t feel as strongly like I’m missing out,” Taoka said. “But now I feel like because of YouTube, social media, and Amazon Prime the longing isn’t there as much.”

Taoka now feels that her experiences from being native to another country have helped her grow and succeed.

“It’s kind of part of who I am, it doesn’t feel like a problem to me,” Taoka said.