By Rachel Chen
The Paladin: Where are you from?
Dr. Eiho Baba: I am half Japanese, half Chinese. My father was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and my mom in Tokyo, Japan. Being half Japanese, half Chinese, my parents were concerned that my siblings and I would become too much of each and therefore wanted us to experience both. Thus, I spent half of my childhood in Taiwan and the other half in Japan. However, in terms of my taste in food, I consider myself to be Chinese, as I do not like Japanese food!
P:How long have you been living in South Carolina?
B: This coming August, I will have lived here for six years. I did leave in between for sabbatical for about a year and a half as well as for a little while when I led a summer trip to China in 2009.
P: What is your education background?
B: I attended university in Japan at the International Christian University where I majored in English literature. After that, I decided to go to University of Hawaii to pursue hospitality management. However, I decided that hospitality management was not for me and went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Hawaii as well.
P: What made you want to be a professor? Did you always know you wanted to teach?
B: As a child, it was always my life-long dream to become a teacher someday, despite my poor grades in school. However, those dreams changed as I grew older and wanted to pursue something more practical. Therefore, I tested out the waters with hospitality management, which I turned out to be quite good at! Though I was good at what I was doing, I was not happy. In the end, it was one of my professors and mentors that pushed me towards teaching. Teaching is more practical.
P: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
B: My favorite thing about teaching is that it was always a dream, and though I was going to abandon it to be practical, I feel that with teaching I am living out my dream. Living out this dream gives me a certain sense of satisfaction. I enjoy teaching a lot and especially love the feeling of learning something new. There are times when I am reading certain books, and I do not understand what I am reading, but it doesn’t matter because I feel happy!
P: What do you do in your spare time?
B: Many of my family members are into art so I grew up with that influence, and my wife is a professional artist as well. I am not very good at art, but I quite enjoy it! My brothers and I were also trained in martial arts as a child, as my mother was in her adolescent years, and therefore she encouraged my brothers and I to do the same. Again, I am horrible at it, but I enjoy it! Oh, I also wanted to study aesthetics at some point but I decided it was too hard!
P: Are you married? Do you have children?
B: I met my wife, Keiko Kamata, in Japan at the International Christian University. We have been together since 1992 and got married in 1999. Though we are complete opposites in terms of politics and beliefs, one thing we have in common is our sense of humor. I also have two children, one boy and one girl. They are fluent in Japanese and can understand a little bit of Chinese and English as well.
P: Why did you choose to teach at Furman University?
B: I was at the University of Hawaii in the middle of writing my dissertation, and my professor encouraged me to go to Furman. The University of Hawaii also had a great placement community that sought to help Ph.D. students get jobs. There were four of five of us that applied for the position at Furman and got interviews as well, and I was by far the worst candidate — I even fell asleep at a dinner meeting one time! For part of their evaluation for me, I had to do a demo class, and half way through my presentation, I realized that it was a complete disaster. I had to change it on the spot! I thought for sure I was not going to get it, but a few days later, I received a call from Dr. Shaner who offered me the position, so I decided to take it!