Hiromi Takizawa comes from a small city in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. Takizawa remembers studying English as a child, but the remoteness of her hometown meant that students would only get to talk to a native speaker once a month.
“I could read and write English when I first came to America, but I couldn’t say anything. My conversation skills were horrible,” she recalled.
Not surprisingly, upon arriving in the United States for the first time, in 2001, she was overwhelmed: “I experienced total culture shock. I starting panicking, asking myself, ‘What have I done? What am I doing here?’” she said, laughing at the memory.
Twelve years later, Takizawa now calls America her home. She went on to earn BA and MA degrees in Glass from Cal State Fullerton, and an MFA in Craft/Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, she works as a glass-blowing artist and instructor at CSUF. But it all started with ALP’s Intensive Language Program, which not only helped improve her English, but also adjust to American culture.
“There were so many activities. Big trips like going to the San Diego Zoo, or just taking us out to lunch,” she said. “I had great instructors. I made a lot of friends. That was such a huge help.”
“In Japan we don’t really have back-and-forth conversations with our professors. When my mom came out here to Fullerton for my graduation, she was shocked that I was talking with my former teachers—that I was even laughing with them!”
“In Japan we don’t really have back-and-forth conversations with our professors. When my mom came out here to Fullerton for my graduation, she was shocked that I was talking with my former teachers—that I was even laughing with them!” she remembered.
When Takizawa looks back, it’s this—the relationships she made in Southern California—that compelled her to stay. Relationships with friends, instructors, her host family—whom she lived with for nearly three years—and her mentor, Katherine Gray, an artist she assists on glass-blowing projects. Also, having the ocean so close is nice.