Dan Hosman has recently become the father of an adorable young lady, her raising becoming his main occupation right now. Professionally, he will tell us in what domain he is working:
I've started from the bottom, I've worked as a QA Tester for a multinational company in the video games industry, after which I shifted to working as an Analyst QA for software programs, and recently I have changed once more and began experimenting with the position of Business Analyst. These are fancy titles of which I haven't even knew that existed during my student years. At the core, I am an engineer, but this is how life is, you never know where it takes you.
How did he end up studying about Japan? What part of Japan and its culture pulled him in?
This is a question that I keep getting once in a few years and it is always difficult to find a concrete answer. I'll start simple, with the first question. In my first year of college, Automation and Computer Science (around 2006), I was beginning my student life with a bunch of new courses. It was the first time in my "academic life" when I had the option to choose an optional course. What is certain is that the course was taught like any other normal course and eventually I realized that the school didn't really satisfy my extracurricular curiosity. There was also English as a mandatory optional course, but I was already bored after so much time of English. I wanted to learn a new language, but the curriculum wasn't conceived with beginners in mind. A friend of mine that was studying Construction was boasting how he started a new Japanese course and he seemed very excited. I was baffled and jealous at the same time because 1. Was there something like this in Romania? and 2. Why couldn't I choose to do something like this?
I've found out that the Japanese teacher at that University was also teaching at the Romanian-American University, so in the summer of 2007 I just went there, at the Centre, and I said that I also want to study Japanese. It was during the summer vacation and I don't think they were expecting for anyone to come at that time. I still remember how Serban was glaring at me when I came to apply. And that is how since my 2nd year of college, I was simultaneously attending the Polytechnic College and the courses at RAU.
What part of Japan pulled me in? I think it was a combination of things. Since I was little, I liked the martial arts, samurai and ninja movies (I was young and I don't remember the names of the movies, but it was around the time that VHS tapes were trending, so in that period I was enjoying the movies of Steven Segal or any other movie that had a main character that learned martial arts from Asia 😊). Pretty much everything that was Japanese seemed to be from another world to me and the way they were approaching certain thing (at least in the movies) was the total opposite to what I saw surrounding me. I've watched animes, and I still do (I really like everything from Ghibli, the productions of Hosoda Mamoru and Makoto Shinkai, such as “The girl who leapt through time”, “The boy and the beast”, “Mirai no Mirai” , “Your name”). Regarding the series, I watch “Dragon Ball”, “Hajime no Ippo”, “Beastars” and other shounen when I have the time. I was also exposed to the Japanese pop-culture over the years. I admit that I also enjoyed the sound of the language, but I never thought that I could be able to learn something like that. As I matured, I've realized that the values and the moral compass of the Japanese are what I like the most.
The first contact with Japan: the Cultural Programs at CSRJ
I only have pleasant memories of the Cultural Programs at CSRJ. In 2011 I was still a 4th year student with a full time job, doing courses at the Polytechnic and Japanese at RAU. As I said, I started from the bottom, so the job I had only allowed me to pay my rent and to not starve. I was studying Japanese for 2-3 years already, and my dream was to go to Japan someday... somehow. Therefore, my first shock was when I received a sponsorship from the Center in order to participate in the Cultural Program. In order to give a little bit more context, I have refused a much better paying job just because I was about to leave for Japan right at the same time when I had to start that job, and on top of that, I never left the country before. You can imagine what kind of cultural shock I received when I got there. After all, my dream came true. The whole trip was euphoric and I remember that I was excited to even look at the pavement, the power lines, the houses etc. I saw machines building machines at the Toyota factory, I've been in the tranquil districts of the old capital in Kyoto, I've roamed the electronics district in Tokyo, there are so many memories and places I've visited that there is no point for me to bore you with all of them.
Fast forward to April 1st 2016 (no, it's not an April Fools' joke), during another Cultural Program in Japan, when I was proposing to my future wife in our favorite city, Kyoto, in the famous Kiyomizudera temple in the zone of EnMusubi Kamisama (some kind of God of "Matchmaking").
What does Dan like most in Japan?
I always come back to this question and I think that I always have a different answer. What I like the most is that the people respect the nature and each other.
How much does the Japanese language and cultural studies help him in his daily life?
Professionally, it doesn't help me at all and this is completely fine. I have never had as a goal to study the Japanese language and culture for my job. Personally speaking, though, these studies are infinitely feeding my curiosity and thirst for Japan. Although I started studying Japanese a long time ago, don't think that now I am some kind of god and can even correct the natives; I've studied at my own pace, I've advanced just like the turtle in its race against the rabbit. In my daily life, it helps me understand podcasts or movies/ series in Japanese (I recommend “Japanese Style Originator”, “Midnight Dinner: Tokyo Stories” or “Naked Director”. The last two can still be found on Netflix. The first one, unfortunately has been removed recently, it was a documentary that even now I regret not saving it), I watch multiple videos on YouTube about things that interest me, such as the martial arts etc. Even though it's not strictly related to the language, the study of another culture and language open up new horizons in general.
What is your most treasured memory with the Center?
At the Center, I've had many Japanese teachers, both Romanian and Japanese, but my most beautiful memories will remain those from my classes with Chinatsu Kawamoto sensei. It was the period when I probably had the most exposure to the Japanese culture that I could and she had a non-conventional style of teaching that, for me at least, was a perfect fit.
Martial arts and self-development. How did this change him?
The Aikido courses at CSRJ-AH started around October of 2011, and my sedentary lifestyle that I had, on top of my passion for martial arts, were more than enough to make me apply. It was difficult at the beginning, but I persevered and over time it became very enjoyable. After all, what better way to understand the Japanese culture if not to practice traditional arts? Here, knowing the Japanese language helped me tremendously in understanding all the denominations and later, after I gained more experience both in Aikido and Japanese, I've helped from time to time with translating when it was needed, like when a sensei arrived from Japan in Romania to teach Japanese through an internship, or when I had to discuss with other sensei at different dojos when I returned to Japan during multiple occasions. Through Aikido, I've managed to regain my self-confidence and live a healthier lifestyle. Practice any sport, be it Aikido or not, even if you are tired or not.
Finally, any greetings, for the anniversary?
It is hard to believe that this year marks 16 years from the establishment of the Center. Although I was one of the longest-lived students of the Center, I temporarily took a break; in reality, the study never ended and at one point, when parenting won't be as demanding, I will return. I have had many colleagues, studied from many Japanese teachers, a few JLPT tests and Cultural Programs. What remained a constant across the years was the dedication of those involved with the Center, who always apply the kaizen (continuous improvement) philosophy. What I've mentioned earlier regarding my experiences with the Center are only a small part of what I've experienced there. Thank you, CSRJ-AH, for everything and I hope that you will remain on top from now as well.