August 28, 2017

Lecture by Mr. James Kunen, an author of Strawberry Statement July 29, 2017


The author of "The Strawberry Statement" (1969), Mr. James S. Kunen, gave a speech titled "The meaning of the Strawberry Statement for my life" organized by Columbia University Alumni Association of Japan (CUAAJ) on July 29.  Mr. Kunen was a 19-year-old student at Columbia when he participated in the Columbia University protests of 1968 against the Vietnam War and segregation, and he wrote about the experience in The Strawberry Statement the following year.  Since then, he has been an author, a journalist, lawyer, worked in corporations, and now teaches English to non-native speakers.  From the turbulent 1970s up to now, he has always been mindful of the socially vulnerable members of the society and maintains positive attitude in the ever-changing environment. During the speech, he has mentioned that he has discovered himself when he quit being a company man.  When he teaches, he tells himself to "Just bring everything that you are!" 

He lives in Brooklyn and this was his first visit to Japan with his wife Lisa.  He kindly stopped over to give the speech for CUAAJ in between visiting three of his former students living in Japan.  He noted "how beautiful and organized Japan is, although the aggressive commuters filling up the train are the same as New York :)"  His humble and kind personality came through the speech.  Thank you for giving us such a personable and enjoyable experience.     

1968年のコロンビア大学闘争でベトナム戦争と黒人差別に抗議した19歳のアメリカ人学生(Mr. Kunen)は、その後小説家、ジャーナリスト、弁護士、サラリーマン、と様々な職業をこなし、現在は、外国人に英語を教える英語教師。激動の1970年代から今に至るまで、常に社会的弱者の側に寄り添う事を考えつつ、環境の変化をサラリと受け入れポジティブに生きる。サラリーマン(Company man)を辞めた時に自分を発見したという話も。英語の授業では自分に、"Just bring everything that you are!"と言い聞かせる。ブルックリン在住。



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