Friday, January 16, 2015

"A Precious Process of Global Learning": Dr. Chiaki Takagi's Reflection on the Path to National Recognition

Dr. Chiaki Takagi is a senior lecturer of Japanese and Asian Studies and serves as the director of Japanese Studies. She is a  member of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and works with colleagues with different cultural backgrounds, sharing common goals to provide dynamic instruction that enhances students’ global education. She also works closely with the International and Global Studies and the study abroad program. In addition, she is one of the University Teaching and Learning Commons (UTLC) Global Engagement Faculty Fellows.

A Global Beginning

I was born in Japan and came to the United States seeking international experience. As my academic background shows, I am interested in learning about different cultures and acquiring knowledge, skills, and multiple perspectives to contribute to society as a global citizen. 

I received a Master’s degree in African American Literature and studied Post-colonial theory and Literature for my Ph.D. Before coming to UNCG, I was a teacher of Japanese language and culture for 10 years, teaching elementary school children at a global magnet school.

Cultivating Meaningful Courses

Dr. Takagi receiving the 2013 Alumni Teaching Excellence
Award from Chancellor Brady
My scholarship is closely tied to the cultural studies courses I have been teaching. I have designed and implemented literature, film and cultural studies courses that deepen students’ understanding of Japanese culture from multiple perspectives.

In spring 2015 I am very excited about teaching a new course, JNS 499 Practicum/a service learning course, in which students share their knowledge of the Japanese language and culture with children in the local school system. The course will be a unique experiential learning opportunity for our students, and at the same time, it will build a Japanese learning community among young students.

Creating Community and Re-Learning a Culture

My goal is to create an academic community that encourages all students to participate in intellectual cultural exchange through the Japanese program. I also aim to educate the whole individual through the program. The last 14 years, promoting the Japanese program at UNCG has been the central commitment of my work, and I have been enjoying working with our enthusiastic students.

Through the academic learning process as well as professional and personal experiences, I have realized that learning new cultures involves re-learning one’s own culture and teaching one’s own culture adds a new dimension to one’s own global awareness. Thus, without hesitation, I can say that my everyday life is a precious process of global learning for me and I endeavor to share this with my students and colleagues.

A National Honor

Dr. Takagi was awarded the prestigious teaching award
from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese
I have recently been awarded the prestigious teaching award from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese. When I began teaching Japanese over 20 years ago, I never even dreamed of receiving such honor. 

I would like to thank Dr. Amy Williamsen, Dr. Penelope Pynes, Dr. Roberto Campo, and all of my colleagues for their support. Without their understanding, encouragement, and guidance, I would not have been able to come this far.

To learn more about the Global Engagement Faculty Fellows and UTLC, visit

To learn more about the American Association of Teachers of Japanese and the prestigious teaching award, visit

To read UNCG's feature on Dr. Takagi in UNCG NOW, visit

Friday, January 9, 2015

Spain: One Student's Story of Food, Funding, and Fulfilling a Dream

Standing in front of windmills in Consuega
that inspired "Don Quixote de La Mancha"
by Miguel de Cervantes
By Stephanie Brabec

Born in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, Stephanie was raised in the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina until moving to Greensboro to attend UNCG in the fall of 2011. Stephanie spent a year abroad from the fall of 2013 until the spring of 2014 studying in the city of Toldeo, Spain. She is double majoring in both Spanish and anthropology, and will officially graduate with full honors in the summer of 2015.

Fulfilling a Dream

Studying abroad for a year was at the top of my college to-do list. I met with Tom Martinek in IPC countless times before deciding that the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain was the right place for me. As a Spanish major and member of the Lloyd International Honors College, I was inspired to choose a study abroad destination that would allow me to master the Spanish language in an immersive setting.

Santo Tomé with American, Brazilian,
and Italian friends

In the spring of 2013, the semester before my study abroad experience, my professor of methods in cultural anthropology, Dr. Susan Andreatta, approached me about writing a proposal to receive a grant through URSCO. The grant would allow me to take full advantage of my study abroad experience by conducting research of an ethnographic nature, collecting data as part of my senior honors thesis. Only days before leaving for Europe for the next 10 months, I got a call confirming that I was an official recipient of an URSCO grant that would successfully allow me to carry out my research abroad.

After spending three weeks visiting friends in France, I made my way to the beautiful city of Toledo, and moved into my apartment in the Jewish neighborhood of the city with my German roommate.

Researching Spanish food and
culture in Seville

When familiarizing myself with the city, I was intrigued by the food, particularly the legs of cured Spanish ham, jamón ibérico, which hung in nearly every shop window that I passed. The Spaniards also spoke about food with a vigor that captivated my attention as somewhat of an anthropologist-in-training.

For those reasons, Dr. Andreatta and I decided that studying food identity and Spanish culture would be the perfect topic for my honors thesis. I triangulated my observations, photographs, and twenty interviews in order to collect data on both national and local dishes, food preparation methods, and the interest in maintaining Spanish food culture. Studying abroad for a full academic year gave me ample time to adapt to my new surroundings, strengthen my language skills, and collect enough data to complete my honors thesis.

On  "la piedra del Rey Moro" (The Rock of the Moorish King) overlooking
the iconic Mirador de Toledo
I owe a great deal of thanks to the staff of IPC, my thesis mentor, Dr. Andreatta, and those the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creativity Office who continue to support me in both my international and academic ventures.

For more information about funding opportunities with URSCO, including the Globally Engaged URCA, please visit

To learn about study abroad opportunities, visit

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Global Engagement QEP Newsletter- January 6, 2015

Global Engagement QEP Newsletter
January 6, 2015

Global Engagement QEP and the International Programs Center Announce Faculty Funding Opportunities
Here is a reminder of upcoming faculty funding opportunities available through the Global Engagement QEP and International Programs Center. Contact the Global Engagement Office at for more information.

Global Engagement QEP Course Development Award
Awards are available for faculty to modify existing courses or to create new courses that address at least one of the four Global Engagement Student Learning Outcomes (see below). Awards range from $500 to $1000.

2014-2015 Academic Year Deadlines:
January 16 & March 20, 2015

To apply for the Global Engagement QEP Course Development Award, visit

For more information about these awards, contact David Nelson, QEP Director, at

Kohler Awards
Kohler Awards, funded through the International Programs Center, support faculty international initiatives at UNCG in the following categories:

Research with Additional Internal Funding
Research with Additional External Funding
Special Projects
Student Programs
Institutional Linkages

If you are interested in applying for a Kohler Award, you must first discuss your proposal with the Associate Provost for International Programs, Dr. Penelope Pynes. She may be contacted at

2014-15 Academic Year Deadlines:
January 16 & March 20, 2015

To apply for a Kohler Award, visit