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Alum Adam Gibson Turns Passion for Asian Culture
Into Success in Japan


West Windsor, N.J. - Adam Gibson's love of Japanese culture has led him to exotic places - and his start at Mercer County Community College helped him get there. Gibson ('02, A.A.S., Computer Systems/ Networking) has spent the last two years in the city of Niigata, the largest city on the Japanese Sea coast, where he has taught English to Japanese students at five high schools and to disabled elementary school children.

"I really enjoy getting to know my students," said Gibson, who also oversees an extracurricular English Club that enables his students to practice together twice weekly. "Although I am fluent in Japanese, I engage them solely in English. Seeing them step out of their comfort zones both in and out of the classroom to rise to the challenge of learning a new language makes me feel good." Gibson sparks discussion using a variety of interactive methods from board games to English language movies without subtitles.

Alum Adam Gibson ('02) with some of his Japanese students

What is Gibson's biggest challenge? "Making sure that I can fit everything that I want to do into a single 50-minute period or during club meetings," he says. A graduate of Ewing High School, he vividly recalls the days when school was difficult for him while he struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Although he took pre-college preparation classes at Mercer as a high school senior, his initial adjustment to the demands of college proved hard. But then he got serious. "I knuckled down and my following semesters were very successful," he says.

Gibson found a supportive environment at Mercer that enabled him to blossom. He especially recalls Communications Professor Alvyn Haywood, who thoroughly engaged him with stimulating lectures and strongly encouraged him to follow his dreams.

"As a child, I loved computers and thought of becoming a technician," Gibson recalled. "I was also fascinated with Japanese culture from my childhood days of watching Japanese movies."

So Gibson focused on computer technology, but also took a Japanese language class at Mercer. From that point on, he was hooked on learning all he could about Asian culture. Upon graduating from MCCC, he transferred to Rutgers University, joining his twin brother Alan, who was studying psychology. Gibson earned his bachelor's degrees in Asian Studies and Psychology in 2007. The latter discipline reflected a growing interest in how the mind works. "It was all a natural fit," he said.

Transformative for Gibson while at Rutgers was his Study Abroad experience in Beppu, Japan, in affiliation with Asian Pacific University. One semester turned into two, during which he tutored children in English for the first time.

Today, he looks forward to parlaying his combination of teaching and language skills into a career at an international company abroad.

"If I had not gone to MCCC, I might not be where I am today," Gibson said. "I have learned that as long as you don't give up, anything is possible. A little perseverance goes a long way. Find your passion and follow it as far as you can go!"

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