Nathan GwiraMajor(s) and Minor: Africana Studies / Economics and Asian Languages and Cultures

Year: 2012

Why did you choose East Asian Languages and Cultures as your major?

I chose to study in the Asian Languages and Cultures because I had a passion for connecting with diverse people from various cultures.

What did you like most about it?

Studying in the Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) department enriched my life experiences. One of the experiences I liked the most was studying abroad in the China summer program in 2011 with Prof. Simmons. During my study abroad experience, I was exposed to students from all over the world. My curiosity led to conversations with Chinese students over lunch and making friends with Korean, Russian, and Japanese students during my summer abroad. Contrary to the popular belief that cultures shift people from different regions apart, our unique cultures actually brought us together.

Nathan Gwira and John KerryWhat is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Currently, I am an M.A. candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and as a 2018 Boren Fellow, I will be studying at Hopkins Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China, this Fall. I enjoy my current position because it is not only rewarding to work and study in the international security space, but it is also interesting to see how my overseas experience, language abilities, and foreign affairs knowledge have contributed towards work and my M.A. course discussions. I credit my Asian Language and Culture studies foundation at Rutgers for providing me with the necessary tools to succeed in one of the top M.A. programs in my field. (Foreign Policy 2018 rated Georgetown SFS as no. 1 school in IR studies)

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job after Rutgers was teaching English as a Foreign Language teacher in Jinan, China. I leveraged my Chinese from Asian Language and Culture department courses to search for and apply to jobs in China.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

My first job set me up for an internship opportunity with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of English Language Programs (OELP) in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This opportunity exposed me to my interest in working on global issues. It led me to several opportunities at the State Department including serving
under the Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues and landing a job as a contractor with the State Department.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

Studying abroad with the former Director of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) was a monumental part of my Rutgers experience and paramount to my success story. Learning Mandarin both at China Study Abroad and at Rutgers opened many doors for me.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

I always like to look at life as a jigsaw puzzle. A beautiful mosaic created by putting together our life experiences. ALC added yet another piece to my puzzle. I hope that current Arts and Sciences students also find beautiful mosaic pieces from the ALC department like I did. Making friends abroad and developing language skills revealed several other interlocking pieces of my life puzzle. I hope prospective and current students seize opportunities like studying abroad in China to unlock their life puzzles as well.

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