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Page 18 | Ka Leo | Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012

Features@kaleo.org | Maria Kanai Editor |Alvin Park Associate

BEST of UH 2012

Best professor: Jay Sakashita

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Religion professor Jay Sakashita, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UH MÄ noa, specializes in Japanese religions.

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Not all good professors were good students. In fact, religion professor Jay Sakashita allows his rocky academic experience to guide his teaching. “I used to get F’s a lot. On a regular basis,� said Sakashita. “I know that there are students like me, or how I was, in the class, so I try to make sure that I can reach those students.� One of the ways he relates to students is by sharing stories and connecting his lessons to personal experience. “Because I was such a poor student, what helped me to get C’s and to do OK and to pass was ... if I could see [the subject ’s] importance,� said Sakashita.“Students have a better chance of finding the class interesting if it is somehow connected to things that are going on in their lives.� Because religion is intimately tied to ever yday life for many students, Sakashita feels that it ’s easier for them to engage. “[Religion] was the only subject I got C’s in – in the rest I got D’s and F ’s. I thought, ‘ There’s hope.’ You see, religion saves!� Sakashita joked.

ĘťS E N S E O U T O F N O N S E N S E Ęź Sakashita also addressed the more controversial aspects of teaching religion. He said his intention is not to promote particular beliefs, but to explain them to those who don’t share that faith. “Our class is not interested in the truth,â€? said Sakashita. “You ďŹ nd the truth in your temple, your mosque, your shrine, your church. The closest we get to the truth is to make sense out of nonsense.â€? Students sometimes take his teaching personally. “I’ve had students walk out,â€? said Sakashita. “Some have said ‘You’re gonna go to hell.’ And I said, ‘Oh well, better music.’â€? But overall, students respond well. “The positive actually far outweighs the negative,â€? Sakashita said. “We’re not here to judge. We’re not here to convert. We’re not here to destroy anyone’s faith. Just make sense out of nonsense.â€?

S TAY I N G H U M B L E Although Sakashita has received positive feedback in the past, he was surprised that students voted for him. “If I were to vote for best professor, I don’t think I’m even one of the best ones in this department,� he said. “If these students took their [other religion professors’] classes, I think their names would be there, not mine.�

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