Study Abroad Year Evolves into Overseas Teaching Career

For some, studying abroad means spending a short time in a foreign country before returning home to finish school, graduate, and find a job. For others, like Dustin Kidd, it’s a chance to fall in love with a new place and decide to stay there.

Like many young people, Kidd wasn’t sure where his path would lead after high school. When faced with choosing which college to attend, a simple, personal touch made one institution stand out in his mind.

“The real kicker for me choosing Central was the acceptance letter,” said Kidd (’00), who grew up in Pasco. “Every other college addressed my letters as ‘dear prospective student,’ but my letter from Central was addressed to me, by my name.”

He began learning Japanese at Central and decided to continue his studies at the University of Shimane, a CWU sister-university in Japan. He had such a positive experience there that he knew he would want to go back someday.

After graduation, Kidd returned to Shimane for three years as an assistant English teacher in elementary and middle school. He then taught only elementary students for two years.

That’s when a connection from Kidd’s time at CWU—a person who came from Shimane to Central via the exchange program—offered him a teaching job at a private school in Hokkaido.

“The way I got that job showed me that it all kind of connects back,” Kidd said. “After a couple years, I really started to miss Shimane and got a job teaching at a private high school back there before teaching part-time on campus.”

Dustin Kidd5 CROP

Dustin Kidd (’00) teaches Japanese students English and intercultural understanding in Shimane, Japan.

After five years of teaching part-time, Kidd was hired full-time in 2014, when he began teaching classes about observing cultures from different perspectives, focusing on intercultural understanding.

Kidd also participated in a professor exchange program when he was a student. He enjoyed his time at Shimane University so much that he still works there as an English education lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

This year, he is involved with the student teaching committee, which organizes student teaching practice with their affiliated kindergarten, elementary, and junior high schools.

“It is fun because the students are always bringing new ideas and new perspectives,” Kidd said. “I have the opportunity to teach culture and guiding, focusing on visiting sightseeing spots in the area, but looking at them from a perspective of explaining them to a person who is not from Japan.”

Kidd put this concept into practice when he brought groups of students from Shimane to CWU each summer for about three weeks prior to the pandemic. While in Ellensburg, the students learned more about the American culture with a chaperone who knew the campus and the town.

Kidd enjoyed coming back and visiting while showing his students where his journey to becoming their professor began.

“Before I was an exchange student, I helped out with the ESL program and took students from Shimane University around Central’s campus when they came to visit,” he said. “I was on the receiving end of helping students, and now that I’m over in Shimane, I had the chance to bring students over to Central.”

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