In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we discuss the experiences of senior researchers who have successfully managed to balance their research/work with life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.
This is the continuation of the interview with Professor Go, who entered the University of Yamanashi thanks to his network of badminton in which he devoted himself since he was in a College of Technology. He then went to the United States to make research in the field he had wished to specialize in, where, again, he extended the episodes with badminton!!
◎ Introduction of Prof. Kentaro Go
Organization: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering Science (Division of Engineering), University of Yamanashi
Specialty: Intelligence Information Science (Human-computer Interaction) (User Interface) (Software Engineering)
・After completing doctoral course at the graduate school, you studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for several years.
Yes, I did. Actually I had not been good at English at all, but I wanted to study cognitive engineering by all means. I read research articles in graduate school, understood the field’s trend gradually, and wanted to study the field in an overseas university. Moreover, I was thinking it was time that I overcome English language.
・What? Were you able to enter a doctoral course without overcoming “English language barrier”?
I always struggled with it (~_~;). I don’t have recent information of the colleges of technology, but in my middle-school days, many of those who went on to a college of technology had “another reason: they didn’t like English”. I avoided and eluded the study of English time after time, but finally I thought I had to confront it, and decided to study abroad.
・Did you came back to Japan having mastered fluent English?
I’m not yet confident with it, and not so fluent in it, I regret to say (lol). But I think it was a big progress for me having become unruffled against speeches I don’t understand. When I think of my own language, we are often unable to catch what someone says. But we do not seem to worry about it. I noticed such a matter of course with an actual sensation. Maybe it owed to my juggling circle partly.
・Wait a second. Did you say juggling? I’m bewildered by the keyword out of nowhere.
(Chuckling) Juggling is really fun. It takes concentration and liberates you from reality. Its degree of proficiency is completely visualized, so you can easily comprehend your learning ability or how you are making progress. Now I’m undergoing special training of patika (lol).
I had thought it was not easy to continue badminton in the US where this sport was not very popular. So I sought something easy to start and that I can continue while living there, and that was juggling. I thought this was America because there were people who easily juggle five or six balls in their warm up! Having associated with “normal Americans” away from laboratory was really good for me. I was able to know there hadn’t been such a culture shock or a “difference” between us as I had expected. But, yes, I was able to play badminton there after all.
・What?! Badminton again? Were you playing it even in the States?Right. Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) had less Japanese students than in other universities, so I asked people around me to find and introduce Japanese in there. And I finally reached a person who had been the captain of the University of Tokyo’s badminton club. Naturally we got excited to talk about our common acquaintances=badminton players! He introduced me a badminton circle made up by the student from Asia and Europe where the game was popular, and I started to practice with them. We had full of activities participating in tournaments or having away games in other universities. In a competition titled “Washington DC Open”, we won the first prize in the second class, so we presented about it in a kind of student committee in the university, and got sent to “the Boston Open” (^^)v
・Speechless. The world of badminton is formidable…
Oh, but just to be certain, let me tell you one thing. I wasn’t always playing! The laboratory I was in had set up an individual meeting with an advisor for an hour every week, and I reported what I had investigated, or discussed new concepts in it. I also tackled my research with all my might.
・I understand that your research was so fulfilling that you had time to enjoy your circle activity. But you came back to Japan, for what reason?
Simply because I didn’t think I would continue post-doctoral study for long. Also the studying abroad program in those days required the students to start the reimbursement of student loans within two years. I felt that it was difficult for me to stay there and find a permanent job in the US… and another thing was I wanted to marry♪ Actually my advisor at that time had spouse who was also a professor in the same university. They looked cool, and I began to long for having a partner, or getting married. So I came back, having determined that “I’ll go back to Japan and marry!”(lol).
・By the way, how did you encounter with your wife?
Luckily I was able to come back to the University of Yamanashi, and my old friend senior introduced me my future wife♪
Well, yes. So, I often tell my students “You shouldn’t spare any effort for anything, because you don’t know what would help you later! For example, even if you cannot choose your job, you can choose how to do the given job. It is how to tackle with it that makes your job enjoyable or boring. Don’t you prefer the one which is enjoyable?!”
・I see. Such a “Let’s enjoy” concept is in the following project, let me introduce it.
Yes! This is “Nashi-Radi”. This station was started by “Let’s Make Broadcasting Station Project” of My House Plan’s Venture-house Project as a part of “Project of Creating Environment to Cultivate Expert Engineers with Integrated Capability ~ Initiative Leaders ‘Gakudaisho’ (campus leader, sounds like gaki-daisho: a boss of the kids). This student-based activity to produce and distribute campus information programs is already in its fifth year. In January next year, we are going to develop this activity into other departments, and will start one-segment broadcasting in Kofu Campus! We are going to make a program of about 15 minutes to be aired every week. This is not simple work but we are going to excavate enjoyable people, things, and events in the campus. We want to enjoy our programs with you, and share them with you. So your cooperation will be greatly appreciated!!
・“Let’s enjoy” concept is also shared by this Support Office♪ Let’s diffuse “enjoyment” together with us! Thank you for today’s interview!!