Yoko Anderson was born and raised in Mito, a very small town near Nagoya, Japan. At age 17, she journeyed to Queensland, Australia, where she spent a few months as an exchange student, going back down under at 20 to spend a year in Melbourne. When she wasn’t globe-trotting, Anderson received her bachelor’s degree in English with a public school teaching certificate from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, and soon after that, she started teaching English in Toyohashi, not far from her hometown. When it came time for graduate school, she decided to go to the U.S., where her future husband, with whom she had taught in Toyohashi, was from originally. She received her master’s in international education from S.I.T. Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vt., and in 2005, Anderson and her now-husband, Ben, relocated to Brooklyn, where she became the international student advisor and program coordinator at Bell Language School and Ben started working in advertising. Two years later, she was looking to work in higher education when the job in international advisement opened up at Juilliard.
What do you remember about your first day at Juilliard?
On my first day, I got lost on the second floor and I remember that Margo [Lamb] very kindly brought me to my office.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I would love to work at the costume shop for a day! Though I am not the best at sewing, I love creating things. It would be nice to take a break from the computer screen.
What is the most memorable job you’ve ever had?
When I was studying in Australia when I was 17, I was part of a one-week program where we worked at a zoo and helped take care of the koalas. Koalas are so cute but I learned they are actually pretty aggressive if they’re handled the wrong way! Our supervisor told us not to rub their backs because they’ll bite. And when we held a koala we had to first hold a stuffed koala and then put the real one on top because their nails are so sharp. It was definitely a memorable job!
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Since I am pregnant—the baby is due in June—I would probably go home and take a long nap with my two adorable black cats, Momo and Geo.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. Are you?
I design and make jewelry using Japanese kimono patterned papers. Since my childhood, I have always loved Japanese traditional papers, and I wanted to create something with them. I finally developed the technique of making them into wearable jewelry.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I have a great passion for cooking. My mother taught me how to cook, and I enjoy cooking Japanese food. I am also learning how to make Korean and Filipino food. I made kimchi with my friends, and it turned to be pretty tasty.
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
My trip to Hawaii in 2007. It was very special because it was where my husband and I got married. Hawaii was absolutely an amazing place—beautiful beaches, gorgeous weather, and great seafood.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I used to play the trumpet in a school band.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
I love that there are three Chinatowns: in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens (in Flushing)! They all have different characteristics and I enjoy exploring all of them. My typical day in Chinatown starts with a great but affordable Chinese back-and-foot massage. Then I eat a warm bowl of Vietnamese pho and move on to a Hong Kong-style café for a dessert with a cup of bubble tea. Finally, I pick up some Asian vegetables and buy either Chinese-Filipino style cake or tofu in sweet syrup for more dessert at home!
What book are you reading right now?
I am reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting [the bible of pregnant moms]!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I love my role working with international students. My job is to advise them on non-immigrant F-1 and J-1 procedures before and during their time at Juilliard. I also help them make smooth transitions to a new culture and environment by providing cultural adjustment workshops and continuous guidance.