Monday, February 17, 2014

About Communication

The topic for the latest blog post for Columbia's first-year Japanese class is "About Communication."

In our classroom we've formed groups of four to work on a video podcast, which is all about communicating our ideas to our fellow classmates as well as anyone else who will watch the finished project. Before we can communicate with our viewers, we must first communicate within the group. Finding a topic, writing proposals, and working on the script have brought us together as a cohesive unit, and we've been using the Japanese we've learned in class as well as picking up new vocabulary along the way. Through working on our own, we're closer to becoming autonomous learners as we research our topic and discover the best ways in which to convey our message in Japanese. In essence, that is the main purpose of doing the video podcast.

As someone with a degree in Mass Communications, I take a two-pronged approach to what the word "communication" means to me. From a professional point of view, I'm inclined to say that at its core, "communication" is about broadcasting your message to the world, whether it's news, sports, music, theater, drama, or comedy. I suppose that's from working in the television industry for more than twenty-five years, on the technical side of production, churning out facts and figures and numbers and data.

As a writer, I strive to be a little more elegant with communication. To communicate is to express an idea in an effective, informative manner that will entertain and educate the viewer/listener/reader. If we do our jobs as communicators adequately, perhaps we will prompt people to want to learn more.

Monday, February 10, 2014








Monday, February 3, 2014


My first official blog entry for my class is a short essay about what I did during my winter break.



It's been quite a while since I've posted on shrinecastle! In May of 2011 I launched JapanCulture•NYC, an English-language resource for all things Japanese in New York City. I've devoted all of my free time to attending Japanese-related events, interviewing Japanese artists and members of New York's Japanese community, and writing about Japanese culture.

I'm resurrecting shrinecastle now as part of the Blogging Project for first-year Japanese students at Columbia University. I was accepted into the Postbaccalaureate Studies Program at Columbia this semester, and while I'm not starting completely from scratch, I am doing a lot of important review work. I chose Columbia because I wanted to improve my Japanese and take a more serious approach to learning and studying. A great deal of Japanese culture is tied to its language, and if I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the culture, I need to be more proficient at speaking.

I'd like to introduce myself to the other students participating in the Blogging Project. I am Susan Hamaker, and I am half Japanese and half Caucasian American from a small town in North Carolina. I am not your typical college student. I am 45 years old, married, and I have been living in New York for 14 years. I have had a 24-year career in television production, but I am making the transition into full-time writing, with JapanCulture•NYC as my vehicle.

When I was growing up, I spoke only English to my mother, who is from Okinawa. This blog is named after her, the English equivalent of her maiden name, Miyagi. She taught me how to count to ten and how to say "hello," "thank you," and "you're welcome." I've learned a lot more taking various classes over the years, and now I am even more focused at Columbia. The fast pace of the class forces me to be focused. I'm excited for what this semester will bring!