• York Rotary

Joe James - Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar

Updated: Feb 27

Diana reports....

We were delighted to welcome Joe James to our meeting on February 18th.


His local Rotary Club had put up a poster at the University where Joe’s Father worked advertising Ambassadorial Scholarships just at the point when he had received his offer from York University and was looking for funding.



After a year’s delay because of Covid, Joe is now an English Literature Masters Student at York, particularly focusing on “Contemporary American Literature after 2000”. His Dissertation is “Literature on the Iraq war by serving soldiers and veterans”. His hobbies include reading and Netflix (such as watching series like Peaky Blinders and The Crown)


Joe was born in 1998 in Hiroshima which is in South Western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. He showed us slides of the two Unesco World Heritage Sites for which Hiroshima is famous:


  • The Tori Gate of the Itsukushima Shrine which was built at the entrance of this Divine Shinto Island in the 12th Century (although the first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th Century) .


  • The A Bomb Dome (or Genbaku Dome), part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Joe went on to to explain that every year on 6th August, when he was at elementary school they would have to go into school to listen to stories from survivors or listen to lectures from peace scholars


Joe came to York because of one fundamental part of his identity – his mother is from Japan but his Father is British from Stoke and he has dual nationality. He always had to speak English when at home in Japan but went to normal Japanese public school where he would speak in Japanese. Naturally, his English is excellent!

He chose his dissertation topic because he wanted to deepen and further his undergraduate work on American literature, particularly after November 2000.


He wanted to increase his knowledge of the structural and social cultural concepts of the Presidency of Donald Trump and the representation of racial and sexual minorities.


After graduation from York, he will continue his studies for his PhD, hopefully somewhere in England, but will take a year off before doing so.


Curiously, when questioned by a member, Joe said that the thing that most surprised him about the UK was how complicated dealing with our post office is!



It was a pleasure to meet and chat to this interesting and eloquent young man and we wish him well in his studies.

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