For Evan and Audrey Eusey, Emporia State alumni, the assistance they got from the Japanese Association Sakura organization helped them learn the Japanese language and culture and readied them for their new life in Japan.
“We wanted to be prepared,” Audrey Eusey said. “So we became friends with some Japanese ESU students to learn about the Japanese language and culture.”
The Euseys and their 9-month-old son, Atticus, moved to Sapporo, Japan just this week to be missionaries.
“I met Audrey at the international food festival in 2009,” said Aki Notomi, sophomore athletic training major and former president of J.A. Sakura. “I was wearing Japanese traditional clothing. Audrey was looking for someone who was Japanese and a girl. She found me first because of the clothes.”
Then Notomi became Eusey’s Japanese tutor. Eusey took lessons on the Japanese language and culture once a week until last September.
“She is more than just a conversation partner,” Eusey said. “She is a good friend, and I’m so thankful for her patience and gentle help.”
Eusey studied a chapter in a book on Japanese and wrote out homework assignments. Then Notomi would fix her mistakes and help her practice the language.
“One week she kept circling the same word on my homework over and over,” Eusey said. “I asked her what was wrong, and she said, ‘You really like ‘kosoputa.’ I had mixed up the Japanese symbols for “N” and “SO,” so instead of writing ‘konputa’ (computer), I wrote ‘kosoputa’ every time.”
Eusey said she was at her Japanese language “peak” last fall when she attended a JA Sakura party at Notomi’s house.
“I was able to have a simple conversation with some of the students about what their plans were for the upcoming winter break,” Eusey said.
Just this week Eusey said she emailed Notomi to talk about Japanese culture. She told Notomi that she could tell salespeople that she was looking for diapers and she was able to find them.
“I think even though I am not with her, I can help her as her friend,” Notomi said. “I am the one who can share Japanese culture with her.”
Audrey grew up in Shawnee and Evan is an Emporia native. While Audrey was having a one-on-one Japanese tutor, Evan went to a weekly Japanese class offered by J.A. Sakura in spring 2010.
“It is an excellent opportunity to start having a relationship with Japanese students,” said Masatoshi Takami, junior music major and Evan’s Japanese conversation partner. “Since language is deep rooted in its culture, you can also get to know Japanese culture through the class.”
Takami said the Euseys would likely face difficulties in achieving their missionaries goals in Japan.
“They have to launch a new life with few connections and a huge language barrier,” Takami said. “Also, I assume it needs the utmost perseverance to tell a religious message to the Japanese because most people in Japan tend to stay away from getting deeply into religion. I’m sure they will get over those hardships with their passion.”
JA Sakura offers Japanese lessons on Wednesday nights in Plumb Hall room 409. The beginners level class starts at 5 p.m. and the intermediate class starts at 6 p.m.