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Kultural Kurator - Branden Printup

Branden Printup

He, Him, His

Ethnicity - African American/Black

Occupation - Educator

Place of Employment - Tokyo JET (Japanese Exchange Teaching Program)

What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or as a young professional?

As a young professional I have been living in Tokyo, Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher for 2 years. I work in a public high school for the Tokyo Board of Education. I teach English to all grade levels in my Japanese high school, manage and participate in multiple school extra curricular programs, and I coach basketball. How has Global Education impacted you and your academic and career choices? Global Education has impacted my career choices by broadening my understanding of what it means to be an educator. I now understand that the skills I learned in my academic career can be used to benefit students all over the world. I will continue to work in Global Education because it has been so impactful on my life. I will also devote my time and efforts to educating others about the multitude of opportunities and benefits that are accessible Internationally.

What challenges have you had to overcome as you gained your global experience(s)? While living in Tokyo I have had to build my proficiency in Japanese to communicate and function in a Japanese society. When I first came to Japan I knew zero Japanese. I was not able to do daily tasks like read menus in a restaurant or find certain things in grocery stores. I fixed this by becoming a part of different clubs at my high school and social groups to practice my Japanese conversation. Now I feel very comfortable speaking to anyone in Japanese!

What or who inspired you to take part in a study/internship/work abroad experience? My mentors at my university inspired me to work internationally. As a graduate student I worked in my university's Center for International Education. My supervisor at the time, and mentor, Kory Saunders helped me learn about the different cultures and opportunities abroad, and how possible it is to experience living abroad. She told me stories about her work abroad and provided me with multiple resources about the impact of studying or working abroad. Before I worked with her I had little understanding of how important it is to travel and experience new cultures. I definitely didn't think I would be able to work in a new country. She encouraged me every day to learn more about life outside of America, and later supported me as I went through the current application process for my current international position. My other mentor, Dr. Erinn Bentley, provided me with inspiration to work abroad as well. Dr. Bentley was my graduate school professor and she had worked as an educator in Japan earlier in her teaching career. When I told her I had decided to apply for the JET Program she provided me with resources and stories about her time in Japan to help me prepare for working there. It was helpful to have someone who had been where I wanted to go tell me that they believed that I would be an awesome person for the job. She made sure that if I ever had any questions that I could find the answer. Both of these phenomenal women have continued to mentor and provide friendship to me long after I have left my university. Having people like them support me helped me to find the courage to work abroad, and it has also encouraged me to continue working in this career field. I hope to inspire many like these women have inspired me.

How has your cultural identity impacted your global experience(s)?

My cultural identity has allowed me to appreciate the differences in the world outside of where I come from. Japan is very different from my hometown in many ways. The things I learned in my culture have really been instrumental in helping me connect with new people from a different culture. It has also helped me realize that many of the aspects that I love from my culture are just as important to people of other cultures. This base has helped me build a strong bond with my new community. For example, dedication and commitment is pivotal in Japanese culture. It is particularly important in the martial arts culture in general, but especially in Karate here in Tokyo. Both dedication and commitment are part of my cultural identity as well. When I began training in karate here in Tokyo I still did not know Japanese, but I showed dedication by continuing to learn so that I could speak with my instructors. I also came to every training early, and stayed as late as I could, to make sure that I understood the information my instructor was teaching. Our communication involved constant repetition of movements and hands on training because I could not yet understand the instruction they were giving in Japanese. Since then they have told me that my commitment is something they find honorable and is the reason why they welcomed me into the school. I'm the only non-Japanese student that lives in Tokyo and trains at this Dojo. Now I am part of the Dojo family! The bond we built through our culture of respect, dedication, and commitment, is what made it possible.

How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds influenced your decision to study/ intern abroad?

As an undergraduate college student I didn't know any students of color that had ever studied or worked abroad. I personally did not think it would be a reality for me to do so either. After meeting multiple students from diverse backgrounds, and being advised by professors from diverse backgrounds who had studied abroad as well, I began to realize that studying and working abroad was definitely possible for me. They also helped me see that it is imperative. I have a voice and background that is unique in America. We all do. Connecting with others and sharing my story internationally is imperative because it will allow people to get a full picture of the beauty and difference in America. It is also imperative for me to share my international experiences with others to help them grow and share their unique stories as well. There are so many different people in the world and being able to see that globalism isn't restricted to one set group has been empowering.

As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?

Culture is how people live and create purpose in their lives, and the inspiration the use to do it.

Self Care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self care into your life?

I make sure to check my emotional levels every day. This consists of me asking myself if am I doing things that I enjoy and will benefit me, and striving to fix this if I am not. I have great job satisfaction because I have found ways to fully invest myself in projects that feel are purposeful. I am happy in my community because I connect with others and participate in multiple community activities like boxing and karate. If I didn't take time out to assess how I'm feeling then things could get quickly out of hand emotionally for me without me realizing exactly what is the cause.

What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them?

Believe in your own self worth. You are capable of doing great things if you just believe you can. The world is open to everyone who wants to explore it and learn from it. Don't overthink it, just go!

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