Andrew Scherffius ’17, from Bozeman, Montana, has been selected as an assistant language teacher by the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Assistant language teachers work alongside their Japanese counterparts to teach English to children of all ages in schools.

Scherffius first became interested in Japan when he was 14 and visited a monastery, where Trappist monks practiced the Japanese art of bonsai. Eventually, the monks instructed him in the basics of bonsai, including the relevant history and philosophy. His interest in Japan was solidified when he lived in Galicia, Spain, where a teacher who was a Japanophile befriended him and nurtured his interest in Japan through film screenings, readings, lessons, and discussions.

“When Andrew first approached me about applying to the JET Program, I was pleased to learn that he had started to learn Japanese on his own,” says Colorado College Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson. “It’s not a requirement for application to the program, but it helps to have some knowledge of Japanese society and cultural expectations for a teacher in the public school system. Andrew signed up for my Survival Japanese Half Block course in January and created a very thoughtful self-introduction in Japanese by the end of only nine days.”

“In addition to refining my teaching skills, I am eager to achieve linguistic and cultural fluency, practicing bonsai and diving headfirst into Japanese history and tradition,” Scherffius says.

A philosophy major who was on the Dean’s List for two years, Scherffius’s thesis, “Information Operations: Marketing and the Militarization of Information in the Network Age,” looks at information science and several works by philosophers Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari.

During the summer of 2016, Scherffius received internship funding from the Career Center to work with the Galileo Middle School Garden Project in Colorado Springs. His work with the project involved growing vegetables for D11 school districts school cafeterias, educating, and building community, as well as special projects including collaborating with local non-profit Concrete Couch, helping with a native plants and sensory gardens, and growing hops, grapes, berries, and giant pumpkins.

Additionally, as a student, he was involved with the Colorado College Refugee Alliance, tutoring a refugee family several hours a week. After his experience on the JET Program, Scherffius will consider a career in either journalism or education.