Monday 5 March 2018 12:12pm
Otago's Haruko Stuart with her Commendation from New Zealand’s Japanese Ambassador Toshihisa Takata.
Receiving a Commendation from New Zealand’s Japanese Ambassador fulfils a long held dream for Otago Languages and Cultures Teaching Fellow Haruko Stuart – who works to bridge the gap between Japan and English-speaking countries.
Ms Stuart, who teaches in the Department’s Japanese Programme, was recently one of 10 teachers, from both secondary schools and the tertiary sector, to be honoured with a Commendation from Ambassador Toshihisa Takata at a ceremony held at the Ambassador's official residence in Wellington.
The Ambassador’s Commendation is bestowed on individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions towards friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and New Zealand, and this was the first group of teachers to be honoured in this way.
For Ms Stuart, the dream to help bridge the gap between Japan and English-speaking countries began when she was a teenager.
"I believe that we can all contribute to building and nourishing friendship and mutual understanding between countries in different ways and different fields of professions if we wish."
“I was fascinated by Western, especially English-speaking countries' languages and cultures because they are so different from ours,” she says. “My father used to teach me English and tell me lots of interesting stories about other countries, which always excited me greatly. He always encouraged me to learn more about other countries because he wanted me to broaden my horizons and become a global-minded adult in the future.”
Ms Stuart has lived in New Zealand for two decades, and has been teaching Japanese at Otago for 15 years.
She says receiving this award is a great honour.
“I believe that we can all contribute to building and nourishing friendship and mutual understanding between countries in different ways and different fields of professions if we wish,” she says.
“You can be a student, an artist, a singer, a writer or a diplomat, you can be anything to become a bridge.
“In my case, I feel so fortunate that I was able to receive this because of what I have been enjoying doing with my teaching profession that I have a strong passion for.”
She has also passed this passion on to her own students.
"A lot of my students excitedly tell me that they also want to become a bridge when I ask them what they wish to do in the future, so I am even more determined, after receiving this honour, to continue to put my heart and soul into helping them to make their dreams come true just like my teachers and my parents have done for me.”
It has been a great 12 months for Ms Stuart, who was last year one of three Otago teachers to receive a National Teaching Excellence Award from Ako Aotearoa.