Franeda (Franny) Williams ‘12

Rebekah Peterson

Franeda Williams attended Minnehaha Academy from 7th-12th grade. Because the school and class sizes were small, she grew close to her teachers.  “It was one of the best parts. I loved my teachers so much.” The classes had an intimate feel, and she appreciated the community. “It felt comfortable--like a family.” One of her favorite things about MA was her advisory group, which is a smaller group of students who meet on a regular basis to talk through how things are going with classes, extracurriculars, and life. Her advisor for this group was Elizabeth Van Pilsum. “She did a good job of making the time cohesive--to foster community and give advice. It was a safe space: no one was excluded, and everyone felt comfortable coming to her with anything. It was so valuable, and not every high schooler has that.”

Journey Abroad

After MA, she received a bachelor’s in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities and a master’s in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Hamline University. After her master’s, Franeda worked part time in the Twin Cities as she searched and applied for full-time positions abroad. God had placed a desire on her heart to go to Japan and when a full-time teaching position in Japan presented itself, she applied for the job, hoping God would open the door. That summer, she had the opportunity to conduct workshops in China for Chinese English teachers and, while there, she found out she had gotten the job in Japan. She was headed to Japan in the fall.

Teaching in Japan

Franeda currently lives in Tokyo where she teaches an English discussion class for freshmen at Rikkyo University. The different topics and discussions students engage in each week have given her a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. Additionally, class sizes are small which gives her a chance to connect with students on a more individual level. She now sees the benefits of small classes sizes from a teacher’s perspective. 

Moving abroad, though exciting, does not come without its challenges. Franeda lives in a tiny apartment in the midst of a concrete jungle. “I did not expect to miss grass!” she said, referencing Minnesota’s lush landscape. However, the hardest thing about being in Japan is the language: Japanese is a very hard language to learn. The language barrier coupled with the busyness of city life can make socializing with locals a bit difficult. Fortunately, Franeda has made friends at work, with people at Meet-Up events, as well as at church. Finding a church, however, proved to be another challenge of coming to Japan. “I had never looked for my own church as an adult. The process was new to me.” Options were slim, but she eventually found one and got connected to a small group. Like small groups in the US, friendships deepen as they find ways to support and pray for each other.

How long will she stay in Japan? Her vision is to stay for a couple of years, and then go on to teach in more countries where she could learn something new each time.

To The Students

While at Minnehaha Academy, Franeda thought she had a plan for her life.  Her advice?  “Don’t hold fast to any plan that you might have in your hand.  Hold it loosely and let God lead you where He wants you to go.”

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