American Teacher's Dream Turns Tragic in Japan

ishinomaki japan
Ishinomaki, Japan
Young teacher Taylor Anderson, 24, of Chesterfield, Virginia, loved Japanese culture and all things Japan for a very long time. She began studying the Japanese language in middle school and later in college, led Japanese literature readings, and loved to share Japanese snacks with her friends. After graduating from Randolph-Macon College in 2008, Anderson found out she would be getting to teach English in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme and it was a total dream come true for her!

Anderson's fateful story takes a sad turn, but it is also a beautiful tale of a young woman who followed and lived her dreams to the very end.


On March 11, when the 9.0 earthquake hit Japan, Taylor Anderson did what teachers across the world do every single day -- she put the kids' needs before her own. She made sure all the children at the Ishinomaki elementary school where she was teaching that day were safe and picked up by their parents. Then, heartbreakingly, Anderson was last seen riding her bike away from that school, and shortly thereafter a 20-foot tsunami swallowed the northeastern port town. Anderson became one of the coastal area's 13,000 missing people.

Earlier today Anderson's parents, who still live here in the states, released a statement that the U.S. Embassy in Japan called them Monday to tell them Taylor's body was found in Ishinomaki.

This is devastating news to receive about a young, vibrant, and inspired teacher, but perhaps there is a positive lesson we can learn from Taylor Anderson's tragic story. I think Robert Lindgren, president of Randolph-Macon College, says it best:

There's a great lesson in the fact that Taylor followed her passion, went to Japan, and taught youngsters and did exactly what she wanted to do and loved doing it and did very well.

It's so true and not something all of us can say about our lives today, let alone over our entire lifetimes. Maybe it's high time we all "Taylor-ed" our lives a little and went after a few of those big dreams.

What's your positive takeaway from a tragic story like this?


Image via jmettraux/Flickr

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