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A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student said his attitude about school and life changed for the better thanks to Japanese program coordinator Yoshiro Hanai.

“Dr. Hanai delivers 110% of his effort to his students and I know this for a fact because before meeting him, I was a completely different person,” said Jonathan Sarandos of Neenah, who will start his second semester at UW Oshkosh in fall. “I never really cared for school and its sometimes monotonous culture, nor did I have the desire to further myself in life. It seems now, I wake up each day excited to learn more, not only in Japanese, but all my courses. I wouldn’t have had a change in mindset toward school and life without Dr. Hanai’s positive influence and push to help me succeed. He teaches us every day what it means to learn something new, and how we should apply it.”

An associate professor of Japanese, Hanai was recognized for the extraordinary concern he shows for his global languages and cultures students—he was recipient of the spring 2023 Faculty/Instructional Academic Staff Adviser Award.

“I was so honored,” Hanai said of the surprise presented by his colleagues, the Provost, director of academic advising and Sarandos, the student who nominated him.

Hanai said he takes faculty advising seriously and tries to answer questions as clearly as possible, while asking himself how he can help his students achieve their long-term goals.

“When it comes to foreign language learning,” he said, “many students have a strong desire to be fluent in the language of their choice, but it is often the case that they don’t know how to work toward the goal efficiently.”

Hanai said one of his “ultimate advising goals” is to help students develop good study habits that can ensure long-term success. He believes becoming fluent in a foreign language offers unique learning opportunities. It allows students to see different cultures they may otherwise not be able to learn and helps build confidence and maturity—preparing them for today’s globalized world.

In addition to Japanese courses, Hanai said there are opportunities at UWO with Oshkosh Taiko (learning Japanese taiko-drumming); Club Nippon, a student organization about Japanese culture; and study abroad programs in Tokyo and Nagasaki.

Sarandos, in his nomination, said he met with Hanai before starting school in the spring 2022 semester. He recalled how Hanai helped him prepare to start in the middle of the academic year—printing copies of his own textbook pages so he (Sarandos) could study and refer to them.

Sarandos said he appreciates that students are asked after each lesson if they have questions and Hanai provides them pertinent information about study abroad opportunities and future careers.

Sarandos said Hanai has changed his and others lives “in more ways than he may know.”

After growing up in Japan and earning his degrees, Hanai said he decided to come to the U.S. for work. He said one of the most “impactful, life-changing experiences” he had was learning English while growing up in Japan. The experience is something he wants for students interested in learning Japanese.

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