Kimberly Wragg ’20 developed a passion for learning Japanese at an early age. “I became interested in the Japanese language when I was twelve years old after finding and listening to Japanese music on the Internet. I really loved the music and wanted to learn more about the culture, the language, and the history.” She enrolled in tutoring and online lessons that continued throughout high school and when she arrived at Wesleyan, she decided to major in international business with a minor in Asian studies.
After successfully completing an interview entirely in Japanese, Kimberly landed an internship with Bridgestone Golf as a translator. She translated Japanese spreadsheets to English and also assisted with daily sales analysis. “I was the youngest person working in the business planning department and many employees seemed surprised I was there. While a lot of women in Japan work for and hold high-positions in businesses, I think it is unusual for a non-Japanese woman in her twenties to be able to work in a Japanese business speaking and writing Japanese.” Kimberly developed relationships with several women at the company, and the head of translating became a welcome mentor.
Kimberly says learning Japanese business writing was her greatest challenge, so she worked hard to memorize the terms and vocabulary known as Business Kanji. Her perseverance paid off when she was invited to give a presentation to the CEO of Bridgestone Golf Tokyo and then join the president and the CEO for lunch. This experience confirmed her plans to work as a translator in the future.
Kimberly has already been accepted to graduate school at Osaka University where she studied in 2018. She says the friendly people and beautiful surroundings in Osaka made her feel at home. “I really enjoyed the scenery - the mountains, the Sea of Japan, and the flowers in the spring and summer.” During her stay, Kimberly immersed herself in the culture by attending festivals and visiting temples, and she even celebrated a traditional Japanese coming of age ceremony for her twentieth birthday.
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