最終更新日:2014/3/31 Mon 18:51:01

Alumni Around the World

University of California U.S.A Michael Bourdaghs

2006/02/06(Mon) 11:16

Messages from International Alumni

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Michael Bourdaghs

Director, University of California Tokyo Study Center
Associate Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA

Finding My Way Back To Tohoku University

I first set foot on the grounds of Tohoku University in September, 1984. I had just arrived as an exchange student at the neighboring campus of Miyagi University of Education. During that first year in Sendai, I often walked through the Tohoku Engineering campus on Aobayama, as well as the Kawauchi campus at the foot of the hill. I met a number of Tohoku professors and students, and I was struck by the beauty of the campus and its surroundings. But I had little idea then what an important part Tohoku University would come to play in my life. For example, four years later, I married a woman from Sendai―who was, it turned out, the daughter of a Tohoku professor!

I came back to Sendai in 1993, this time as an official member of the Tohoku University community. As a Fulbright-Hays Fellow from Cornell University, I spent fifteen months at Tohoku as a graduate research student in Japanese literature, writing my dissertation on Shimazaki Toson. I studied under Professors Nihei Michiaki, Sato Nobuhiro, and Takahashi Akinori, and spent many pleasant days with the other students in the kokubungaku kenkyushitsu. For a young scholar like me, it was an exhilarating and unique experience.

After I returned to the U.S. and finished my doctorate, I was hired to teach at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Then, in 2000, as a Japan Foundation Research Fellow, I again returned to Tohoku University, this time as a visiting researcher. I spent one year working on the Natsume Soseki collection in the university library, looking at the books that Soseki used during his own time as an exchange student in London. It was exciting to be back ‘home’ in the kokubungaku kenkyushitsu and to meet a new generation of students there.

Today, as Director of the University of California Tokyo Study Center, I again find myself working closely with colleagues at Tohoku University, this time in the Center for International Exchange. Since 1991, Tohoku University and the University of California have engaged in an active student exchange program. In my current position, I work with University of California students who want to study in Sendai, as well as Tohoku students who want to study at our campuses in the U.S. At Tohoku, I know from personal experience that California students will find a world-class research university, where they can enjoy hands-on participation in cutting-edge research. The experience will shape their future lives. I also suspect that a few of them will end up like me, finding themselves drawn back again and again to Sendai to reacquaint themselves with a remarkable city and a great university.

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