On the move
Hiroaki Tani’20 was always interested in international relations, but only felt confident that a career in diplomacy was possible after completing his four years at Beloit. Just two years after graduating virtually during the height of a global pandemic, he landed a foreign service officer position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo.
Shortly after most Beloit students were sent home in late March of 2020, Hiroaki journeyed back home to Japan, where he studied international law and economics before competing for a highly coveted position in the Japanese foreign ministry, which required an admission test and slew of interviews that only take place once a year.
Although his current position is largely administrative so far, he’s been making countless connections with businesspeople, academics, researchers, and elected officials. Next year, he’ll move from Japan to France to complete graduate school and improve his French before he’ll be relocated to a different French-speaking country, likely in West Africa.
“It just felt right to pursue this career because I thought I could maximize my language skills and experiences I gained through my life at Beloit,” he says. “Political relationships have huge impacts on people’s impressions toward other countries, for better or worse. I know it sounds cliche, but that’s why I thought working in the foreign service was a good start to make the world a better place.”
Hiroaki grew up in Japan, as well as Hong Kong for his elementary education and Shanghai during high school, which introduced him to different cultures, languages, and ways of life from an early age. He searched for a liberal arts college with a socially and financially supportive international community — and Beloit topped his list.
“I had never been to the United States until I went to Beloit, so I was a little bit nervous about living in a totally different place for the next four years,” Hiroaki says. “However, the community is very diverse and welcoming.” He joined the International Club, or I-Club, and found camaraderie with other international students.
Hiroaki double majored in business economics and music — the only person to have that combination in his class. As an avid piano player since childhood, he rekindled his interest in performance and explored areas like ethnomusicology and music theory at Beloit. Economics only came into the picture after he took Principles of Economics on a whim and loved it.
“That is what I liked about the liberal arts education at Beloit: you are welcomed and encouraged to dive into the world which is out of your comfort zone,” he says. He even crafted a research project for one of his music courses that focused on economic development in Sweden’s music industry.
After two years of adjustments, challenges, and community-making in the United States, Hiroaki packed up and moved again — this time to study abroad at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he completed an internship at a research company.
“It was an exciting and challenging experience,” Hiroaki says. “[It] made me be more active to get out of the bubble I was in at Beloit.”
Although the emergence of COVID-19 thwarted these plans at the end of his Beloit career, Hiroaki is looking forward to the coming years of making new friends and work colleagues while working for the foreign ministry, as well as experiencing new cultures, languages, and even cuisines.
“I’m excited to get to work with other countries and international organizations,” he says. “Since I’m expected to work with countries and organizations which use French as their official language, there are many options: countries in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, as well as the United Nations, OECD, and the EU. And apart from going to school, I’m excited to live in France, learn their culture, and eat good food!”