By Mark Flanigan (Nagasaki-ken, 2000-04) for JQ magazine. Mark is a program director at the Japan ICU Foundation in New York City and was also a Rotary Peace Fellow at ICU from 2010-12, during which time he volunteered for a tsunami relief mission in Ishinomaki after the terrible 3/11 tragedy. In addition to his JET and Rotary service, Mark has also been a U.S. Army officer, Presidential Management Fellow, Pacific Forum CSIS Young Leader, Eisaku Sato Memorial Essay Contest prize winner, and Aspen Institute Socrates Program Seminar scholar. His interests lie in international education, disaster response, and post-conflict peacebuilding. He can be contacted at mflanigan[at]jicuf.org.
Christopher Cade Mosley (Nagasaki-ken, 2000-01) is a current Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo and previously served as a JET for one year. Born in Texas and raised mostly in Fort Worth, Mosley attended the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in government and philosophy. He also spent a semester abroad in Haifa, Israel and interned for Congressional House Majority Leader Dick Armey in Washington, D.C. He was also on student government for their department (Liberal Arts), chairing the committee on study abroad. In this exclusive interview, JQ caught up with Mosley to discuss his lifelong interest in politics and international affairs.
Thanks for your time and for answering our questions, Cade! Would you please tell everyone about your time on JET?
I was a JET in 2000-01 on a long, thin island called Tsushima in Nagasaki, but physically closer to the city of Fukuoka, nestled in the strait between the cities of Pusan and Fukuoka. Tsushima is famous for a decisive sea battle Japan won against Russia in 1905 that first put Japan on the map as a world power and set its course into the 20th century. There’s a massive Russian battleship sunk just off the coast from my apartment there! (Too deep to see, though.) I taught for the second largest district, called Mitsushima, on the south end of the island.
What was your JET role?
I was an ALT at four schools in my district, spending a week in each so that I would rotate through all four in a month. I spent Monday through Thursday assisting the teacher with the lesson, usually coming up with some creative activity or role play to complement the lesson, and Fridays at our BOE.
Did you have any previous background in Asian languages and cultures?
I actually was accepted to JET while I was teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, and my friends there insisted I take the opportunity. Before Seoul, I didn’t have any experience. My whole reason for going to Seoul and applying to JET were because I had zero experience with Asia and thought it would be a good chance to get to know the region, since I was already interested in international affairs at that time.
What did you do following your JET service?
Just before JET I was accepted to the NYU School of Law, and I actually deferred a year to be able to do JET first. I arrived in New York in September 2001 just before 9/11. My focus at NYU Law was international law, and during and following law school I worked at a lot of different places, but all involving international law in some way: the International Law Commission in Geneva; as a Fellow of NYU’s Institute for International Law and Justice; at the State Department’s Legal Office in D.C.; the Center for International Environmental Law in D.C.; and Human Rights Now in various places including Thailand teaching law to Burmese law students.
How did you first find out about the Rotary Peace Fellowship?
I first heard about it from you, actually, since we were Facebook friends and had taught in Nagasaki at the same time. I was able to see how you benefited personally from the Fellowship from your updates.
Did you choose ICU in Tokyo as your first educational option for the Fellowship? If so, what led to your decision?
Yes, I chose ICU as my only option. I put all my eggs in that basket, because I didn’t want to do the fellowship unless I went to Japan. I chose it because I wanted to find a way to study in Japan and be supported for it, and it seemed like the best way to do that.
What kinds of things are you focusing on while serving as a Rotary Peace Fellow in Tokyo, both academically and socially?
Academically, I’m focusing on learning international human rights law more formally, and writing articles in human rights and international law to build up a resume for hopefully teaching someday. For my thesis, I am thinking to build off of work I did with Human Rights Now on the governance challenges Japan has had with managing the Fukushima nuclear disaster, on issues such as relocation, decontamination, disclosure of information, and especially compensation. Socially, I am working to build stronger ties inside of Japan itself, among Japanese lawyers and academics and new friends. Taking ICU’s Japanese courses is part of that, too.
It’s a bit far off to think about, but what might be your post-graduate plan after ICU?
My ambition is to teach international law at some point in the future, in the U.S. or Japan. Continuing work in the field with an NGO doing international law would also be a good place for me.
What specific advice would you have for current/former JETs who might be interested in becoming Rotary Peace Fellows, especially at ICU?
The best advice I could give with the application process itself would be to frame your application as a kind of narrative. I don’t mean telling a literal story, but where all the parts work together to paint a consistent picture and make a case why you’re the best candidate for getting the position, from your past experience to your goals to why ICU is the best link between your interests and getting you to meet your goals, which in turn ideally benefit the Rotary values. It all works together as a cohesive narrative. Having experience in Japan through JET, I think, is a great asset, since it shows first that Japan won’t be a culture shock and you can thrive there, but also that you care about the country and may get more from the experience than people who have no experience with Japan at all.
Thank you so much, Cade! Any parting words?
In my experience, Japan is going through an interesting evolution these days. It’s starting to take a more assertive role in international affairs and taking more of a stand for human rights, development, and peaceful relations. This also makes it a very interesting time for Westerners to be engaged in Japan more than ever before too, I think, since part of Japan’s opening more to world affairs is other countries opening up more to Japan as well.
But all of this doesn’t happen abstractly. It happens with real people that make a commitment to come to Japan to study and work and make connections and friends. So if you’ve ever thought about having more experience in Japan, now is a great time to do it. And the Rotary Peace Fellowship is one of the best ways to get there, still not even all that well-known. I wish anyone good luck that wants to go for it!
For more JQ magazine interviews, click here.