Recent grad helps Japan

Ben Hurst ’10 made up his mind — he wasn’t going to make sandwiches anymore.

His early search for professional work in the nonprofit industry was unsuccessful and the old summer job assembling subs at a chain sandwich joint was growing stale. He decided to go international with his search and landed on a job teaching English in Japan that he found listed online.

Ben Hurst

Ben Hurst ’10 teaches English to Japanese children at an elementary school in Chikusei, a city of about 110,000. Hurst kept his plan to teach abroad even after the country was struck by one of the worst disasters in its history March 11. He is on an 11-month contract.

“I’ve always been up for adventure,” the philosophy and psychology major said. When it came time to embark on his unusual and exciting job opportunity, Hurst had one more decision to make.

Would he still take his March 22 flight to a country that had just experienced one of the largest natural disasters in its history a week earlier?

“It was something that I really wanted to do,” said Hurst, who lives and works in Chikusei. “There’s such a need for support here.”

Many in the English teaching program and others like it fled after March 11 earthquakes rocked the country and compromised nuclear plants, creating serious danger of radiation exposure.

“My relatives in California are taking potassium iodine [to protect themselves], and here I am going into the heart of it,” he said. He and his fellow teachers who live in a common apartment complex have experienced tremors since they arrived.

But the work is satisfying and the experience worthwhile.

“I’m really glad I came,” said Hurst, who cited his experience interning for Oswego Health and taking philosophy courses on the mind and language as important tools for his journey.

After his 11-month contract is up, Hurst said he may come back to the U.S. for graduate school — he may study international relations — but, he’s also considering similar English teaching jobs abroad.

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