Welcome to our new series of interviews with the local JASA community. To kick things off, we interviewed our former intern Junho Jeong!
Junho Jeong has been interning at the Japan-America Society of Alabama for the past six months. He is a Japanese and Financial Engineering major at Korea University in Seoul, Korea. He’s been studying Japanese since 2011 and English since childhood.
Q: What brought you to Alabama and to JASA?
“I participated in the Korea West Program, a joint program between the Korean Government and the US Department of State, so I was in Texas for three months and then got matched with JASA for an internship by the Program.”
Q: What do you at JASA?
“So I usually do social media stuff: I post Japan related news on our Facebook page and website and translate the posts into Japanese too. I also get the opportunity to participate in our board meetings and cultural events. I also do our ‘Japan in a Suitcase’ presentation.”
Q: What have you learned from working at JASA?
“I’ve learned how to manage a company’s website and see how that all works. Also, translating English into Japanese is quite an experience. And, I think if you’re a foreigner, you get so many opportunities to make friends, a lot of friends, around here. Like at our monthly dinner Kayobikai.”
Q: English is your third language and Japanese your second; what is it like working in your non-native languages?
“I just think it’s cool, it’s so cool!
When it comes to working in English I think it’s much easier because I know so much more grammar. I’ve been learning English grammar for so long and it made me realize that you never really learn grammar in your first language [Korean]. It’s also a really interesting experience to notice how people make sentences or express their feelings in different ways, depending on what culture you’ve been raised in.”
Q: What got you interested in Japan?
“The reason I got interested in Japan is that I wanted to be a journalist covering issues in East Asia. Since Korea is an ally with Japan and the US, I thought it is critical to understand the history between the nations and why we became allies. When I was a high school student, I felt like I needed to get exposed to Japanese articles too to get more correct information and not to be biased. That was the first time I started learning Japanese.”
Q: What have you liked about living in Alabama?
“People! It’s really different from what I expected. When I googled Alabama -I had never heard of Alabama before I came here- I noticed it had not a very good reputation with various problems, and even my teachers in Austin were worried about me going to Alabama with no one I know. But, it turned out it was not like that at all; people were so warm and sweet hearted. Everyone I met here has been understanding and, I think most of all, it has been really precious for me to be in a family orientated culture in my life. It’s been really cool just to get a family dinner or have a Christmas party, or Easter or any kind of holidays spent with family members here, and to be part of those events was so nice. I will never forget southern hospitality I got here.”
Q: What’s next for you?
“I have three semesters left at my University and am planning on learning more about finances. I’m planning to apply for a Japanese company and am seriously thinking of applying for Dai-ichi Protective Life [headquartered in Birmingham] so I can maybe come back here. That’s how much I liked living here.”
“Thank you for having me here and thanks to JASA for having me here. I enjoyed it a lot!”