Ron Martin



Today, I will take you on a short retrospective trip. I encourage you to follow along and think about your own experiences and the people associated with them. I will begin in 1999. I realize that for some of the 2013 class this means that you were in elementary school, which is just as good a place as any to start.

In March of 1999 I got married, and that is really where my story here in Japan begins. It was then that I made a commitment to my wife, Japan, and to establishing my career in language education. At the time, I was teaching at a public junior high school as an assistant language teacher.

In January of 2000 I entered the Masters program here at Temple.

During the fall of 2000 I met two teachers from a private school at a weekend seminar. They told me that they had been looking for someone to join their new junior high school. They were about to open a new building and accept new students, and so in April of 2001 I started teaching at the junior high eager to put my Temple education to work to help build a new curriculum.

In the fall of 2001 I finished my Masters coursework.

A few months later in the summer of 2002 I was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer and lived about 10 weeks believing that my life was going to change forever.

That fall I realized that my junior high position would not become tenured.

So, in January of 2003 I entered the doctorate program at Temple… Yes, 10 years ago.

In November of 2004 toward the end of my core doctoral coursework, my mother died and one month later my wife and I welcomed home our adopted son.

In 2005 I finished the core courses of the doctoral program, and my dissertation began patiently waiting for me.

In February of 2006 my dad passed away.

In March of 2007 my wife and I welcomed home our adopted daughter.

My dissertation was still waiting.

At the turn between the 2008 and 2009 Japanese academic years I left the work world of language education for young learners for a full time contract position in the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyo University.

For the decade between 1999 and 2008 I gave around 50 workshops for public elementary and junior high school Japanese teachers and though I have never counted, well over double that number to native English speaking teachers. During that time I often worked over 60 hours a week and for one year in particular nearly 80. I was also told that more than likely I was the first native English speaker to have been invited by a board of education to an open lesson as a guest lecturer…that happened twice.

In 2012 I joined the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyo as a tenured faculty member…with the clear expectation that my dissertation would get done in short order. Well, it has or I would not be standing here today.

This retrospective trip is not about loss of loved ones or the welcoming of children, success or even hardship or challenges. It is simply about life events. I asked you to think about your own experiences and the people associated with them. I am sure that your experiences are similar to mine on number and influence and there is a great chance that some among you have withstood greater adversity than I could ever imagine.

I will close with something my mother told me once…just a few years out of college. She said, "You know what you can and can't do." I think deep down we all know this. In the early 2000s I told my colleagues and my wife that it was my goal — not dream — but goal to one day be a tenured professor at a Japanese university teaching future teachers and if I had the chance to, to one day also teach in the Graduate College of Education here at TUJ. There wasn't a chorus telling me that it was possible and my wife also wondered why I thought I could…worried that perhaps I had some kind of false hope. Well, I knew I could…that I would work toward that goal until I achieved it or realized that I had to change direction.

Just like you. You knew you could finish your degree here at Temple. You knew you could do it. You did it. We did it. Congratulations and thank you.