Dream Catchers: Allison Yoneyama

by Matt Hutaff

Allison Yoneyama didn’t grow up speaking Japanese, but thanks to her work as part of Scripps’ Core Program, she’s inspired a new generation with an appreciation of Japanese culture.

“I was slated to be an English major,” she says. “Somewhere along the way, however, I realized it wasn’t my passion. There wasn’t the same fire in my spirit for Shakespeare as there was for Tokugawa.”

The flames instead were stoked by Professor Boucquey, whose language immersion technique presented Allison with the opportunity to pass along her passions to children. She taught two classes at Claremont’s Chaparral Elementary School about the traditions and culture Japanese youth learn while they are growing up.

Watching children soak up the language provided the impetus to pursue teaching after graduation. Accepted to the JET Program, a Japan exchange and teaching program, Allison will, in a twist, teach English to middle school children in Japan. While there, she wants to study and document Japanese pop culture before it’s forgotten.

“When I first arrived at Scripps, I had a very narrow view of the world,” she says, “not by choice, but by exposure to life. Since then, I have set one foot in front of the other and, with the help of the College and my friends, I’ve changed into a much stronger woman who knows just where I want to go in life.”

“Life is about doing what you truly love to do,” she laughs. “And I’m about to do it.”