We are very excited to announce that our Featured Educator is Greg Mason from Nagoya International School in Japan! Greg is the first educator to implement Roadtrip Nation in Japan, and we are thrilled to have him as the Featured Educator! I had the chance to talk to Greg about his personal story and hear how Roadtrip Nation is influencing him and his students this school year.
Molly: Where were you when you were a teenager and how did you get to where you are today?
Greg: I have had many social work and counseling jobs, mostly dealing with families and children. I transitioned into education in 2008 with my first international school counselor position in Shanghai, China. While there, I was a counselor for all grades and learned about the high stakes of university admissions counseling. I came to Japan in 2010, and I have the same role at my current school in Nagoya where I do personal counseling for the students and parents, university admissions, as well as teach a health class.
Molly: How do you see Roadtrip Nation influencing your students?
Greg: My students come from many different countries, but the pressure to conform to career options hits our Asian population the hardest. About a third of my students are from here in Japan, or are part Japanese—many others come from other Asian countries. They are feeling the pressure to make money and attend a university with a good brand name. Almost all of my students will attend university, and they often apply to the same schools because they use rankings and parent word of mouth to choose their university. When I talk to my students, or I hear them talk to one another, I can hear a wide range of interests and hobbies that can be turned into a future career. I hope that Roadtrip Nation can show them that stepping outside of the path others have chosen for them will make them happy, even if they meet resistance along the way.
Molly: What is your personal favorite part about Roadtrip Nation?
Greg: The aspect of Roadtrip Nation that I enjoy most is the Interview Archive. I appreciate hearing others tell their story and share their advice for others. I find most of them inspirational for my own journey in life, and I have gained faith that if my first choice doesn’t work out for me, that I can still enjoy life in a new direction like many of the subjects.
Molly: What is a memorable Roadtrip Nation moment in your classroom?
Greg: I wanted to give the students a taste of what an interview would feel like to get them motivated for their assignments to come. A husband of a staff member plays drums in a funk/jazz group that tour in Japan. He agreed to come to our classroom for an interview and mini-concert. The students asked him about music, choices in life, and any resistance he had from his family about taking a creative career path, which is not the norm here in Japan. When the questions were done, he told us that he was going to play a song that would channel the emotion of the room and the idea of making our dreams come true, and he would be making it up as he went. He then played an amazing song (using just drums) that touched everyone in the room to have been a part of such an organic experience. I doubt many classes have their own original theme song!