More than a month after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that hit Japan, the country is beginning to recover.
The tragedies brought an outpouring of international support, but Delta College Japanese tutor Kazuko Apcar, a native of Japan, felt helpless knowing her home country was suffering and she could not physically be there to help.
“I’ve never had that kind of feeling before,” said Apcar. “I felt like I was defeated, like Japan lost.”
Aware that it was impossible for her to go there, Apcar looked for other ways to support her country.
“I struggled so much inside because I wanted to go and help,” said Apcar. “I kept asking myself ‘what can I do?’”
She found a way to help by donating to the Japanese Red Cross and various causes that her church is supporting.
“It’s the least I could do,” she said. “I am okay now that they are in a recovering process.”
Apcar emigrated from the prefecture, which is equivalent to a state, Ehime and lived on Shikoku Island.
After receiving her two-year degree and teaching credentials in Japan, Apcar set out to America with a group of Japanese students in 1978. They were all involved in a program at California State University, Sacramento that paid for tuition and dorm living.
Apcar dreamed of studying English and saw the advantages of doing so in America.
When her time in Sacramento came to an end, she headed back to Japan and taught English. However, she still had a desire to return and continue her education.
She found another program that allowed her to attend University of California, Davis where she met her future husband and her reason for making America her new home.
“I had no intention to live here,” said Apcar. “You never know where life will take you.”
Together they moved to Stockton and started a family. She began to attend University of the Pacific and received her Bachelor’s Degree in English.
Apcar is now in her fourth year as a tutor at Delta College.
The students she tutors encourage her to become a professor here.
“She is awesome,” said Phalla Ouk who came to Delta College for the Japanese language class.
“She’s very knowledgeable, animated, and she makes it fun.”
Not only does Apcar make the experience enjoyable, she also makes sure her students grasp the material.
“She really manages to put everything in really easy and straightforward terms,” said sophomore Caleb Neal. “Kazuko-sensei really makes an effort to answer all of our questions so that we understand and she doesn’t get frustrated.”
Apcar believes that her move to America has opened many doors and has taken her on a journey that she would have never anticipated.
“I never thought I would be teaching Japanese,” said Apcar. “In America you never know what is going to happen because there are so many opportunities here.”