David House is the Japanese instructor at UCA, and the one thing you should know about him: he loves his students.
House has been teaching at UCA since 2014. He says that even if his students were not yet speaking Japanese perfectly, that they are still good students and he loves them.
House lived in Japan for seven years, with two of those years working as an assistant English teacher through the JET program - a Japanese government-sponsored program for recent college graduates to teach English in Japan. He often thinks about Japan.
“I have enjoyed my time back, but y’know I always think am I going to get back to work there again, I don’t know,” House said. “Reverse culture shock is a real thing.” He said that the people in Japan treated him so kindly while he was there that he has made it his personal mission to help all the Japanese people around him as a way to pay it forward.
Since being back in America, House has gotten involved with the JET program as a consulate, interviewing students from around the country and helping UCA students prepare for the interview.
“From UCA we are going to have a pre-interview info session and they’re going to sit and talk about it in the interview.” He said that he recognizes how hard students work.
“I think that there is a persisting desire among students...demonstrated by people who come in as Freshman and all through their life at the University...to learn about Japan and study Japanese language and participate in Japanese culture,” House said.
House stays clocked in at work to make sure he is always ready to help his students. “It is important to understand the degree to which I am invested in participating in Japan related education and there is a clearly demonstrated interest in Japan related things and I want to help continue that for as long as I can,”House Said.
According to House, the last term was a real learning experience for him, making the full transition to online learning. The way he has designed the class has been very similar to how he does class in-person before COVID.
“As far as my classes are concerned, they are heavily driven by small group and pair work, so if I can’t sit two people next to each other and talk to each other, I don’t understand how I could do it face-to-face,” House said.
So he sends students to breakout rooms to do pair work through Zoom. He wants students to maintain as much structure as they can because he knows that students want structure. As for him personally, “I don’t want structure, I don’t people telling me what to do,” House said.
Last fall, the was question about the continuation of the Japanese program. “It was a big kick in the head,” House said.
The situation could have jeopardized his position at UCA and many of the students’ ability to study and learn to appreciate Japanese culture. After a lot of debate, petitioning, and conferences, the Japanese program was saved. “The students helped a lot, the Japanese club helped a lot, my coworkers helped a lot.” House said.
House reached out to organizations across the world, “it really shows how much these organizations really want to support these institutions of higher learning,” because through these efforts the Japanese program was saved.
He loves the challenge of Japanese and he loves his students, even the ones that struggle.