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Faculty Profile: Andy Nakajima
Assistant Professor of Japanese

Professor Andy Nakajima loves the opportunity that Hope has given him to pursue his two greatest passions: teaching Japanese and doing pastoral work.

Professor Nakajima originally came to Holland to pursue his Master of Divinity at Western Theological Seminary. But when he heard of an opening for a Japanese teaching position at Hope, he was torn between the two paths. “It was a happy struggle for me, because I wanted to pursue pastoral work, but at the same time my love is to teach Japanese,” he says.

Professor Nakajima values that he was able to teach part time at Hope while attaining his Master of Divinity, so he can now live out both of his passions. Currently, he serves full time at Hope and part time in ministry to the Japanese-speaking people in Western Michigan, for whom he primarily oversees outreach programs.

By serving outside of Hope, Professor Nakajima brings to his classes the idea that living a well-rounded life is important. “I tell my students from day one: your goal is not to just ace your course, but to try to find lifelong friends and lifelong mentors,” he says.

In fact, the opportunity to build those relationships is one of Professor Nakajima’s favorite aspects of Hope. “Students in the past have asked me to be their mentor and I’ve really enjoyed that,” he says. “Those are priceless lifelong relationships.” He also appreciates that, as an ordained minister, he has been able to officiate at former students’ weddings over the years.

In addition to building friendships with students, Professor Nakajima enjoys the support system he has with other faculty members. “We can openly ask about each other and pray for each other,” he says. “It’s a very mutually enhancing experience.”

He also appreciates that Hope’s liberal arts approach teaches students about life issues through the accessibility of the people. “Hope has a really high quality social community,” says Professor Nakajima. “In that way—not just academically, but spiritually, mentally, and intellectually—Hope College prepares students well.”

What makes Hope College a unique place, Professor Nakajima notes, is its service-oriented nature. “I have witnessed so many Hope students who want to serve,” he says. “It’s like a second nature for most of them. It’s a great component of the Hope College education.”

That attitude of service among students further enhances Professor Nakajima’s two loves of teaching and serving God. “The students are always mindful of other people,” he says. “That impresses me so much, and I’m continually learning from them about how to be passionate about serving people.”

This profile was written by Danielle K. Johnson, a 2008 Hope College graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the 2008-09 Hope College Catalog.

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