【Faculty Voices】 Episode 11: “Life as a Shining Steel” – Professor Hiroki UCHIDA

You may have seen the faces of our faculty members, be it in a face-to-face classroom, an online classroom discussion, the university brochure, or possibly, through their professional outputs. But do you know how they really are as an individual?

This Faculty Voices series aims to acquaint you with some of our unique faculty members in the form of a relay essay by the faculty themselves. You will have a chance to get a glimpse of the faculties’ personal agenda, concept on life, philosophy, and memories, as well as their area of profession and research theme.

The eleventh episode of the Faculty Voice Series is from Professor Hiroki UCHIDA.

Prof. Uchida was born and raised in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. He started his teaching career as a high school English teacher in 1989 after graduating from Nanzan University in Nagoya. In his sixth year as a teacher, he decided to enroll in a graduate program to broaden his perspectives on English education and completed a master’s degree (TESOL) at Nanzan University in 1996. Prof. Uchida joined the professional graduate school at AIU in April, 2009 and has been Head of English Language Teaching Practices since 2012. He assumed office as Dean of the Graduate School in 2017.

Profile picture of Professor UCHIDA

Life as a Shining Steel

Common phrases that you may hear from a young child include “I wanna be … in the future.” I personally have in mind my three-year-old son. He believes he can be whoever he chooses to be. A very peaceful time in life.

Picture of Professor Uchida at 1 year old

1 year old: my future was unlimited

I myself used to believe that growing toward adulthood would broaden my future. The fact was, however, somewhat different. I gave up the opportunity to play baseball and basketball when I chose to join the swimming club at my junior high school. I thereafter decided to go on to a college to study English literature, which marked the day when I gave up the opportunity to become an engineer or a doctor. Some late starters rise to new life, but I don’t think I am one of those geniuses or exceptional hard workers. Decision-making in life is more or less like this.

Choosing a path at every crossroad in life is a process of also losing possibilities for the future. Never did I think that way when I was young though. My heart just told me which option I should choose. What if I had thought back then like I do now? Would my life have been different? This question is not that helpful because irresistible desires and passions and recklessly driving forward is what only young people are privileged to have. They should not be that careful and vigilant.

Picture of Professor Uchida at 22 years old

22 years old: still believed I could do anything

Above all, I hate to say “if.”
Some people are wealthy and some people are not. Some people are gifted with healthy sound bodies, but you may not be one of them. All human beings seem equal in terms of opportunities, but not so when you look at their starting points. Comparing yourself with other people is helpful when you want to improve yourself. Without it, you would not be able to know how much you are superior/inferior to other people. You should know, however, that this risky attitude may be detrimental to you. If you see your colleagues far ahead of you, and they are going out of your sight, it could make you realize that your effort would never close the gap. And you may feel that you are hopeless and helpless. That was exactly what I experienced right when I turned 30 years old.

 Picture of Professor Uchida at 19 years old

19 years old:traveled alone to think about my life

I was looking up at the high walls in front of me, which I could not climb. I was discouraged and at a total loss. And then someone whispered these words of wisdom:

Steel can shine when it is polished.

These words reminded me of a sword I saw at some exhibition when I was a kid. The long sword in an elegant arc wore a perfect pattern on its blade. The reflected light was not strong, but the sword was sharp and alarming. Unlike gold or platinum, steel rusts easily. Constant polishing of the blade is the only way to maintain its glow. My thought echoed in my mind. “I should not waste my time in despair and do nothing.” I felt ashamed of myself for dreaming to be gold. What I should have aimed at was to be a shining steel.

Picture of Professor Uchida at 30 years old

30 years old:choosing to be a shining steel

I unconsciously ceased to compare myself with other people. Instead, I competed against myself. It was a simple judgment; did I move forward from where I was on the previous day? It was, in fact, much more painful because I could never deceive myself. But no one else disturbed me any longer, which enabled me to focus on what I should do.

My son says he wants to be Superman. One of my important duties may be to sit beside him and whisper “Steel can shine when it is polished,” when he truly needs these words.

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