In the summer of 2018, senior lecturer and SJMC assistant director Gilbert Martinez explored the great wonders of Japan. He spent a month in Nagoya taking intermediate Japanese with Texas State students in Dr. Moriuchi’s study abroad program. And now, a year later, he is preparing to lead a team of his own to Tokyo and Kyoto in June of 2019.

Martinez has a long and personal history with Japan. His father was in the Air Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan, where he met Gilbert’s mother. He resided there until he was around 5 years of age. Then, in 1995, he returned to visit Okinawa with his mother and siblings, and again returned to Okinawa in 2016 for an academic conference.

Martinez stated that he loves spending time with family and working on improving his Japanese language skills. “I also enjoy a wide range of things involving Japanese cultures, such as film, toys, and food,” Martinez said.

Martinez currently teaches Media Law for the undergraduate and graduate Mass Communications program at Texas State University. He elaborated on how Japan has advanced his teaching, commenting, “Traveling to Japan gave me a broader worldview and provided international examples related to Media Law and free speech and free press issues. Understanding how Japanese society handles a variety of free speech issues helps me understand the similarities with the United States and the differences.”

The study abroad trip is the SJMC’s first to Asia, and Martinez is excited to lead the trip to Kyoto and Tokyo with the help of program assistant and senior lecturer Jon Zmikly. Zmikly visited Japan in the summer of 2016, coincidentally, the same month Martinez was there.

“I’m honored to be working with Gilbert on bringing this trip to life, and I think students will get a really strong sense of Japanese life and culture. Going to Japan two years ago was an amazing experience for me, and our students will definitely have a lot to write about,” said Zmikly.

Students will earn credit for two courses on the trip, including MC 4382L: Feature Writing and MC 4382O: Travel Journalism. Martinez spoke about the upcoming trip at this year’s Mass Communication Week.

Martinez believes all students should study abroad if they have a chance, stating studying abroad has reminded him how important it is to travel outside one’s comfort zone to experience new things and experiences. This has inspired him to encourage all his students to travel the world so that they can gain insight into the world and themselves.

Martinez states regarding the upcoming study abroad program, “I’m most looking forward to traveling with students who have never been to Japan or outside the United States before. I’m looking forward to reading their travel essays and blog posts about Tokyo and Kyoto and seeing these cities with fresh eyes.”

The SJMC is also taking two other study abroad trips – one to London / Spain, and another trip to Barcelona / Madrid. To learn more, visit the SJMC’s Study Abroad website.