Dr. Jody McBrien will teach classes at Sōka University.

USF Sarasota-Manatee professor readies for Japan trip

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: March 28, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (March 28, 2017) – The list goes on and on. New Zealand, Uganda, Ireland, Lithuania, China, France. In all, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Dr. Jody McBrien, an associate professor of literacies education, figures she’s visited 36 nations over her career.

Prepare to add one more stop to her travelogue: Sōka University in Tokyo. The education specialist plans to travel to Japan this summer to teach a course entitled International Perspectives on Education.

For four months, she’ll teach upper-level undergraduate classes about educational systems around the world, as well as different philosophies toward education and how issues such as gender, poverty and war impact learning.

Additionally, she anticipates devoting many off-hours probing Japan’s efforts at resettling displaced people from the Middle East and parts of Asia.

Dr. McBrien, who spent much time in Uganda after its long, ruinous civil war, is an expert on refugees and the aftermath of resettlement efforts. Many refugees entering Japan now are from war-torn Syria.

“As a comparative researcher, I am so excited to spend four months in an Asian country studying these issues,” she said. “I’ve already spoken with two different refugee agencies.”

She won’t be traveling alone. Her husband, Richard Stammer, will accompany her, though not as a scholar. “He’s looking forward to exploring the city while I’m teaching,” she said, adding the two will stay in university housing about 45 minutes outside of Tokyo’s downtown where Sōka University is based.

They expect to arrive in time for the Hanami, or annual cherry blossom festival that captivates locals and international visitors. While off-the-clock, she hopes to explore the city and countryside with her husband and travel to Okinawa for some diving.

“I know some conversational Japanese,” she said. With a laugh, she added, “I can introduce myself, say a few phrases and can order meals, except sushi, anything but sushi.”

Her classes will be taught in English. A frequent international lecturer, Dr. McBrien laid the groundwork for the Japan trip about a year ago. She noticed an advertisement about the teaching position in a newsletter from a professional organization, the Comparative and International Education Society.

She applied for the post, submitted a resume, syllabus and essay, and was delighted to hear back a few weeks later that she had been accepted. She visited Japan about 20 years ago and was hoping to make a return trip to explore Japan’s culture in more depth.

She also admits to a longtime penchant for travel. Her first overseas trip occurred while she was a teenager living in Connecticut.

“I started traveling when I was 16 when my dad was working in London, and I’ve just never stopped,” she said. “I just love learning languages and cultures and I love meeting people and talking to them about their lifestyles.”

She expects to return in time for the fall semester.

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