On January 26, WMU alumnus Rodger Swan (1986-2010) passed away from a sudden illness. In 2009, he had completed an English major and Japanese minor, and at the time of his death, he was teaching English in Iwate, located in northern, rural Japan. Rodger was an outstanding student in the English and Japanese programs, and during his time at WMU, he was an active part of the Writing Center, where he helped many people throughout the university with their work. He was also a member of the Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. Because he was such a fine student, he was the recipient of an all expenses-paid scholarship to study abroad at one of WMU’s study abroad partners, Keio University in Tokyo, for the 2007-2008 academic year.
Rodger had a passionate love for Japanese culture, literature, and film. In fact, his Honor's Thesis was a translation of a piece of Japanese fiction from the 1920s, which he completed with the assistance of his advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Angles from the Department of Foreign Languages. The translation will be published later this year in a collection of Japanese ghost stories forthcoming from the publisher Kurodahan Press. While in Japan, first as a student and then as an English teacher, Rodger created a series of extremely popular YouTube videos in which he introduced various aspects of Japanese culture and talked about his daily life in Japan. (http://www.youtube.com/user/rodgerswan ) Currently, his YouTube channel shows almost 8000 subscribers. There were Facebook fan pages dedicated to his films and, after his death, there was a great outpouring of grief on Facebook and his YouTube channel from fans who stated that his films had encouraged their love for Japan.
Because Rodger was such a fine ambassador for Japanese culture, Rodger’s family and Dr. Angles of the Department of Foreign Languages have cooperated to create the Rodger Swan Memorial Fund for Japanese Studies. Donations to the fund will help support the study of students who, like Rodger, are working on Japanese language or planning to travel to Japan. Through the fund, they hope to keep alive his eagerness to foster a love for Japan in others, as well as keep his name a part of the activities of the department for years to come.
Donations are being accepted via credit card through the following link.Rodger Swan Memorial Fund for Japanese Studies https://shopwmu.wmich.edu/ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=718&SINGLESTORE=true