Obies Using Languages: Aki Gormezano, ’13

Gormezano is a 2013 graduate of Oberlin with a BA in East Asian Studies. A recent recipient of both the Critical Language Scholarship and participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program,  he is currently working as an account executive for Japan Airlines at their San Francisco office.

When I got to Oberlin, I had no idea what I wanted to study. By the time I had to declare a major, I realized that Japanese made East Asian studies the only program I had taken a class in each semester. I’m so happy that I did – hanging out with program secretary Amy Redden in the East Asian Studies office was probably the highlight. That says a lot considering the wonderful tutelage and support I received from Oberlin’s outstanding EAS faculty. 
Right after graduation, I headed to Himeji, Japan for two months via the US Department of State’s CLS program for some intensive Japanese. Being in a full immersion environment did amazing things to my verbal fluency. Right after the CLS program ended, I hopped a plane to Guam to change my visa then headed back to Japan as a teacher for the JET program, bound for Fukushima prefecture. I’ve come to love studying Japanese so being in Japan was like candy for me. I still had to put effort into learning kanji and memorizing the expressions my friends taught me, but for the most part, I could learn just by hanging out! 
Little more than a year after beginning JET, I continue to live the dream back home in San Francisco working for Japan Airlines. I get to speak a lot of Japanese everyday with my amazing colleagues and work in a position that bridges America and Japan. You really never know where language will take you — I’m going to keep studying as hard as I can, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. 

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