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Get to know: AFCLC Asia Pacific Expert Dr. Jessica Jordan

AFCLC Outreach Team

Dr. Jessica Jordan has a Ph.D. in History (Modern Japan) from the University of California, San Diego. She speaks Japanese fluently and is currently serving as the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Assistant Professor of Regional Cultural Studies for Asia. Her deeply rooted knowledge is helping to educate men and women of the Air Force and shape the future of Air Power.

“I will be presenting at the LREC symposium on a Japanese WWII  flag in my possession,” Jordan said, “in the past, I have done quite a bit of oral history research and I’m working on turning my dissertation into a book. In my elective classes at Air War College, I hope to enable people to understand the historical origins of current tensions in the Asia Pacific area”.

Dr. Jordan became interested in Japanese culture, at a young age, on the small island of Saipan near Guam. The island is known for the “bloody storming of beaches” when the U.S. invaded the island in World War II. She describes her hometown as an area riddled with scars from battle. As a child, she said, she would swim in the lagoon around old U.S. Sherman tanks that are still submerged in the waters.

“The tanks are very visible,” she said, “even with the waves, they stand out”.

Her studies, dissertation, and interest in the history and culture of the area started near those waters. The soft-spoken historian is the daughter of Californians who were part of the hippie generation. They joined the Peace Corps and moved to an area now known as the Federated States of Micronesia where she was born. Her entire upbringing, she said, inspired her to study Japanese history and  culture.

“I spent 22 years in Saipan, I went to Arizona State and moved to Japan for one year to attend advanced Japanese language school. But, I first learned to speak Japanese growing up in Saipan. From elementary on up, I’d been taking Japanese language lessons. Japanese is spoken by lots of communities in Saipan and there are a lot of historical influences too,” Jordan said.

The Air Force Culture and Language Center aims to develop culturally competent Airmen. Jordan believes understanding the complicated colonial and war history will help people make more culturally informed decisions when stationed in the Asia Pacific region.

“My research I completed for my degree looks into the impact of Japanese colonialism and WWII in Micronesia,” she said, “in the future, I want to learn more about family ties between Micronesians and the tens of thousands of Japanese and Okinawans that moved to the area in the 1920’s and 30’s. After the war, these settlers were removed from the islands because they were considered enemies. I want to follow these families. Right now, there’s almost no research about this out there”.

Beyond her extensive studies, Dr. Jordan is a swimmer, a mother, and a wife. She and her husband are teaching their daughter to speak Japanese.

“We often speak Japanese with her,” she said, ” of course, we also speak English and my husband speaks French. He’s Canadian”.
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