EAS Alumnus Leland Calabro
Leland Calabro, a native of Schenectady, graduated from SUNY at Albany in 1987 with a B.A. in Chinese Studies. During his senior year, he took part in an international student exchange between SUNY at Albany and Beijing Normal University. That is where he met his future Japanese wife. After graduation he and his wife Miyo moved to Hawaii and were married there. A year later his daughter, Harumi was born, after which time, he and his family, then moved to Japan to take part in the JET Program for 2 years. Leland says, “It was the invaluable experience gained during my student exchange in Beijing provided by SUNY at Albany that was one of the main factors which attributed to me being selected as a candidate for the JET Program”. In 1989, the JET Program was just in its infancy and during Leland’s second year on the program he was voted in as national Vice-Chair to the volunteer group AJET. The purpose of AJET was for actual JET participants to be directly involved in the overall improvement of the program.
He later moved on to head up the language department at Daio Paper Company for 2 years on the island of Shikoku, Japan. Leland then used the valuable experience gained teaching children on the JET program and teaching adults and business people at Daio Paper Company to open his own English school in the same area. He ran his school successfully for almost 5 years. After living a total of almost 9 years in Japan, he realized that his own daughter had some English language deficiencies, and decided to relocate back to the States to make up for her educational needs in that area.
After five years living in Las Vegas and working for the Bellagio Hotel in their international marketing department as an analyst, he once more realized that his daughter now had developed severe deficiencies in her Japanese language abilities. To once again try to balance his daughter’s language skills between English and Japanese, and this time to interject some elements of Chinese as well, he decided to once again return to Asia.
This time he and his family moved to Dalian, China. While living in Dalian for a year, Leland helped manage a local English conversation school there, while at the same time, taught English at his daughter’s school, the Japanese School of Dalian. After one full school year, Leland then decided his daughter was ready for a regular public Japanese school in Japan. Leland then made plans to return to Japan and open his own English school again. This time he moved back to his wife’s hometown, Uwajima. He named his school, SMILETALK. He has been running that school successfully for over 3 years now.
Leland reiterates, “It was the excellent curriculum offered by the East Asian Department at SUNY Albany, with their well thought out international student exchange programs and knowledgeable professors, which truly provided the foundation to move forward, pursue and be immersed in, time and time again, the things that I was, and still am, most intrigued by….the people and cultures of the world of East Asia”.
August 17, 2016