Yuko Nakajima

Class of 2015

Image of Yuko Nakajima.

By learning to think comprehensively as well as gaining knowledge-based facts of international affairs, I changed my perception of the world.

Yuko graduated from SUA with a concentration in International Studies (INTS) in 2015. She started working for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017. From 2018 to 2023, she will work in Embassy of Japan in Myanmar for foreign service.

Q: What is your best memory as an International Studies concentrator?

A: INTS opened my eyes and path for foreign service. When I saw media coverage on international affairs, I only used to get the impression of it, such as, “oh it’s sad news” and “that’s terrible.” It was a simplistic empathy without much understanding of the background of events. However, INTS courses allowed me to question—Why is this happening? What is the implication of this event? Where is the country heading? How will this affect another country? By learning to think comprehensively as well as gaining knowledge-based facts of international affairs, I changed my perception of the world and realized my passion for foreign service. Thanks to all the classes, internships, and capstone mentoring, I passed the foreign service exam in Japan and will be working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the language assignment of Burmese, my first-choice career.

Q: How did International Studies prepare you for life after SUA?

A: Introduction to Southeast Asian Studies: This was a fun yet eye-opening introductory class for my first-year experience at college. It informed me of diverse aspects the region is pregnant of, which was very new to me.  My initial image of Southeast Asia took shape in this class. It also inspired me to study more in depth of Myanmar which I wrote my senior thesis on.

Democracy and Democratization: This class was a very thought-provoking class. In this class, my general high regard for democracy was doubted, defended, denied, and crumbled again. It was a winding process for me to think the matter from right, left, top, and bottom in different time frames and places. My understanding of state political system was deepened through the course.

Q: Do you have any advice for current International Studies concentrators?

A: Don’t reach conclusions so early, but always have your “tentative conclusion.”

INTS is profound, and I think you only have a sip of it as an undergrad. The knowledge may feed you, but remind yourself that you know so little. Having formed your tentative conclusion is also useful for your memory. You probably forget much of the content after the course is over. I encourage you to summarize the course very briefly in your mind and construct your own “tentative conclusion.” That way, you can keep your thoughts concise and only remember the necessary points regarding your tentative conclusion, which is pretty much what you need to know. Well, I am in no position to say those things like these, but wish you all the best!