Yumiko Akiba lived in Osaka, Japan for the first 14 years of her life. As the second-largest city in Japan, Osaka is known for being the “Nation’s Kitchen,” due to its rapid development during the Edo period.
Osaka is also known for its rigorous academics and competitive athletics – something Yumiko knew all about as a professional gymnast. As a child, she would attend school until 4:00 p.m. before catching the train to gymnastics practice, where she would be until 11:00 p.m. She trained with gymnasts who would eventually compete in the Athens and Beijing Olympics. When Yumiko’s interest in gymnastics started to wane, her mother suggested a move to the United States, where she could focus solely on academics.
“When I came to the United States in high school I instantly noticed how nice the teachers were,” said Yumiko. “They walked around the classroom and helped the students who didn’t understand the lesson. It didn’t take long for me to realize I eventually wanted to do the same thing.”
This led Yumiko to pursue a career in education, specifically developmental mathematics.
“So many students go into a math class thinking they aren’t good at math, when really they just haven’t figured out which methods work best for them yet,” she said. “I make sure my students know there are multiple ways to do the lesson I’m teaching.”
Though she spent 20 years living and teaching in Oklahoma, Yumiko and her Golden Retriever, Happy, were ready for a change of scenery. They made the cross-country move last summer to their new home in Painted Post, N.Y.
“It’s so open and beautiful here,” said Yumiko. “I love to sit on my front porch and play catch with my dog.”
Yumiko is enjoying her new home and her commute to work, which is a short 15-minute drive to the SUNY Corning Community College campus.
When she isn’t teaching, you can find Yumiko catching up on Japanese television shows, or binge-watching Criminal Minds and NCIS. On Saturdays, Yumiko enjoys cooking Japanese food and making her own sushi rolls, known as Temaki.
She is looking forward to the warmer weather and getting to experience more of New York, as well as learning as much as possible from her new colleagues.