Though she’s fascinated by human societies the world over, history major Tepi Ennis ’18 has always harbored a passion for Japanese culture in particular.
“While at Haverford I took several courses in Japanese culture, language, and history,” Ennis says. One of those courses included a day-long field trip to the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center in Philadelphia, a “model of a 17th-century aristocrat’s guest home in a Buddhist temple complex,” where Ennis recalls being especially enthralled by the tea ceremony demonstration. Now, as a recent graduate, she’s returned there to work as an assistant in the visitor services department. There, she’s responsible for a little bit of everything—manning the phones, working at the ticket window, performing routine maintenance, and giving tours to guests.
“On weekdays we have tour groups, so I might have 20 primary school children or 20 senior citizens,” Ennis says. “I also set up, break down, and assist with programming such as Japanese storytelling, origami, tea ceremonies, arts and crafts, and other cultural activities. The best part of the day is always when I get to feed our fat and friendly bright orange koi fish! I really appreciate the variety in activities throughout my job.”
For Ennis, though, it’s the tours that truly give her a chance to engage with the material that got her interested in Japan in the first place.
“I did my senior thesis on the Dutch in Japan, which aligns well with the time period I talk about at work,” she says. “So I add my own flair to the tour by describing the relationship between Europeans and Japan in this time period.”
A rising star at the Center, Ennis hopes to potentially work her way up the ladder of museum leadership positions. Her main requirement, career-wise, is that she be able to share her love of history with her coworkers and customers on a regular basis.
Her job in the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center more than fulfills this condition.
“This job was a dream come true, because every day I get to engage with that interest that started in my coursework and share my love of history with guests,” Ennis says.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.
Photo: Surrounded by the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, resident visitor services assistant Tepi Ennis ’18 smiles. Photo courtesy of Tepi Ennis ’18.