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December 6, 2007

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler Graduate Living Her Dream Teaching in Japan


Basima Naser, a 2004 graduate of The University of Texas at Tyler, says she is living her dream as a junior high school teacher in Japan.

The 25-year-old is at Takatsu Junior High School, where she teaches seventh grade, (itchinenses), eighth grade (ninenses) and ninth grade (sanenses) English classes. As a teacher for the Yachiyo Board of Education, Naser was sent earlier this year through the Tyler Sister Cities Program in charge of bringing assistant language teachers to the country.

Originally from the Middle East, Naser, who received a bachelor’s degree in English literature, grew up in Arlington. She said she had always wanted to see what living abroad had to offer.

According to Naser, how she arrived in Japan is a “whirlwind” of a story. She said she has Dr. Stephen Krebbs, UT Tyler senior lecture of philosophy, to thank for the opportunity.

“I was visiting UT Tyler one weekend for a conference and talking with Dr. Krebbs. He was listening to me complain about how much I really hated my current job and how lost I have been feeling since I graduated,” she said. “He asked me if I would be interested in teaching English in Japan. I said yes of course.”

But Naser said she had her doubts.

“I really didn’t think anything would come out of it,” she said. “The next thing I know Dr. Krebbs is putting me in touch with the Tyler Sister Cities Program in charge of sending assistant language teachers to Japan.”

She completed an application, and about two months later she was interviewing for the position. The whole process took approximately four months.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I got the position. I had to wait about two weeks after the interview for confirmation. I tried to put it out of my mind as much as I could during that time. I didn’t want to get my hopes up if they said no, but I really wanted it.”

Naser in Japan
When she found out she was selected, Naser was both excited and terrified.

“What had at first been something I dreamed about doing actually became a reality; I wasn’t completely sure I was ready for it. But there was no way I was going to refuse.”

Five months after Krebbs told her about the program, she was on a plane to Japan.

“That first week here was probably the hardest I have ever experienced in my life,” Naser said. “I was in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t really know very much about the people, and I was thousands of miles away from my family, friends and any secure base I really knew. But things eventually began to settle down, I was talking to my family everyday and I had met the other girls who were a part of the ALT program as well.”

Naser said in Japan, junior high school students are placed in a class of about 20 to 30 kids, depending on the size of the school, and that class stays together for all three years of junior high.

“I teach the English classes with the English teacher at the school,” she added. “The teacher will teach the first part of the class. I will teach the second, and sometimes I am given the whole period to teach. Usually when the time is split I enhance the lesson with an activity, worksheet or a game.” 

Overall, she calls the whole experience “incredible.”

“I am completely enamored with Japan and this job,” Naser added. “I can honestly see myself teaching here for a long time and completely enjoying it. I still feel as though I have much to learn, but the educational system here is fascinating.”

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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