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Waseda Exclusive: A Chat with Professor Rosemary Dawood

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Waseda chapter.

Professor Rosemary Dawood, or you may know her as Professor Rosemary, has been teaching media, politics, social movements, and gender studies for the past 4 years at Waseda University. She is probably one of the nicest and most easy-going professors, with her bright smiles every lesson that create the most comfortable atmosphere for her students. Sadly, as Professor Rosemary is leaving Waseda University,  HerCampus Waseda has taken the action to feature her in our magazine, almost like a good-bye present.

So, let’s begin the interview.

Hello Professor Rosemary, how are you today?

I’m good. Thank you for asking.

For the Waseda community who hasn’t met you yet, what subjects, or subject areas, do you teach?

I teach media, politics, gender studies, political studies, introduction to contemporary political theory—which is a key concept of political science, political representations in a global context, different types of democracy, introduction contentious politics—which is about social movements, and gender studies. My major was actually on social movements and gender politics. In fact, I did my PhD here at Waseda University in 2018, focusing on women’s activism.

Professor Rosemary believed that there needed to be more classes in the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) about the relationship between the media and politics, as well as gender studies. To her, there simply weren’t enough classes on these topics, which is why she decided to take it upon herself to teach these subjects at Waseda. As a student of hers myself, let me tell you, her classes were great.

What made you want to learn and be further educated on social movements, or the topic areas that interest you today?

As you know I am Egyptian, and when I was there, I witnessed the Arab Spring. I was not very much aware of why such a thing was happening—and do keep in mind I was a Japanese Language student at that time.

One day when I came to Japan, I went to the really beautiful area around the National Diet Building—I saw that many Japanese people were protesting against Abe in 2011. I was so amazed that I thought, “oh wow! Japanese people can really demonstrate against the government?!” I got so excited, and I exchanged conversations with the demonstrators, and I realized that this is something great that I could’ve never imagined. This, for me, built an interest in social movement studies.

Aside from her amazing work in the field of academia, Professor Rosemary also had the opportunity to work for the United Nations as a political analyst regarding women in Japan.

I got a pretty good position at the UN as a political analyst about women’s politics, especially in Japan. I had the opportunity to create reports and send it to the headquarters, and the process sort of repeats itself. This was a new experience for me though. I shared my workload with other people, I was working with them and exchanging ideas with one another—and I even got to travel to the headquarters in New York, and it was really nice.

Although I was impressed with how there were people speaking in 6-7 different languages who wanted to make a positive change in the world, I’m not a person who wanted to work in an office. This experience made me realize that academia is the best for me. If you want to challenge yourself, you need to think out of the box. I wanted to see myself in different occupations and atmosphere to see my potential and what I am capable of, so I am thankful for this experience.

What was your favorite part about teaching at Waseda University?

My favorite part was interacting with students— I love working with people. I enjoy looking at my students every day to see their development. It’s not only about challenging and updating, it’s more on creating new things and involving  them, especially with people who have dreams. It’s unique and diverse—it’s an amazing thing for me to observe as a teacher. Looking at students growing and doing something different, telling me about their dreams or even asking for recommendation letters is just great. Teaching is my passion.

And to make things more interesting, what was your favorite part about being a student yourself at Waseda University, at the Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies?

As a student, well I was tortured doing my PhD—it was hell. But I guess it was being exposed to a different culture. Unlike in Cairo University where there isn’t a huge diversity amongst students, Waseda was very much diverse—and I really liked that.

Another thing would probably be during my one-year exchange program between Cairo University and Waseda University. I entered a Japanese speech contest circle (サークル) and I prepared a lot for it. As I got up and managed to speak in the beginning, well…

She forgot the rest of her speech. Ironically, she did not find this as something deprecating. In fact, it made her become fearless.

The more you get scared, the less success you’ll gain. I do not care about what people think of me, but how I can work on myself. I used this experience to change my own self. I did another speech test again in 2014, and I won, it felt great. It was an amazing experience.

Professor Rosemary believes in the Japanese saying: 「失敗は成功のもと」. This roughly translates to: “failure is the root of success.” She believes, we can learn from our so-called, “bad experiences,” and it is important to remember not to let these bad experiences define who we are.

I believe in this because I failed many things in my life, but it didn’t hit me. It supported me to my future career, and it shaped who I am. I never would have achieved what I have today.

How different are Waseda students in comparison to your previous students at other universities?

Waseda students are very diverse—I enjoy this diversity and their cultural background. Even the languages. Another thing is that they are willing to aim for more, they are willing to achieve something. They want to be a better version of themselves—and this is amazing. This doesn’t only limit to Japanese students, but also foreign students too. I respect these students for leaving their comfort zone to achieve their dreams and challenging themselves.

Do you have any stories in particular that made you feel very welcomed or happy here at Waseda?

I am truly lucky and grateful to receive wonderful and kind words from my students, and it reminds me why I love teaching. Just hearing, “thank you for this lecture” or “I have become more interested to learn about gender studies” makes me happy.

There was also a mail I received from one of my students. She said,

“I have always wanted to be a mother, and I also wanted to be a successful woman. I thought that there was something wrong with me, and I thought it was my fault. But, it’s societies’ fault and not mine”.

This comment touched Professor Rosemary’s heart, and she did not realize her classes can go beyond an academic level. It can change one’s life and perspective.

After (creepily) looking through your published papers on researchmap, I noticed that most of your works are centralized on Japan. I was wondering, what sparked your interest in learning about Japan?

Around 15 years ago, I was in high school and I turned on the TV. Coincidentally, a Japanese drama すずらん(The Return of Happiness) was playing, and I just loved the pronunciation of the language and the culture—to an extent that I would write down words from the drama. Naturally, I wanted to learn more about the Japanese culture and study more about the language.

I majored in the Faculty of Literature and Arts Dept of Japanese Language and Literature at Cairo University— and that’s where I studied the language.

Sadly, this is where the interview ended. With her love for teaching and incredibly kind personality, it can be assured that she will be warmly welcomed in the next chapter of her life.

Professor Rosemary will definitely be missed by her students and colleagues. Thank you so much for teaching us such interesting and life-changing subjects. We hope that wherever you go, you’ll be as happy and lovely as always, and share your passions. Your Waseda Family will always remember you!

“Follow your dreams and believe in yourselves—never surrender to anything that comes up in the way. Never forget who you are, and never let anyone look down on you. Everyone is unique, and you are born to fulfil a specific task in your life.” – Rosemary Dawood.

A multicultural student that can speak in 5 different languages in one sentence, but cannot speak in one language for one minute. I'm Nikhita Kaushik, and I am a student at Waseda University's SILS programme. The great thing about writing is that it is a form of expression and education at the same time. If my 5'1 foot self can help you learn more or make you smile for the slightest second, then I have done my job here at Her Campus.