Ayumi Nishii, Alumna

Dr. Valerie Bentz has been an excellent mentor (and chair for my dissertation) for me, and my appreciation for her goes beyond what I can describe in words. Her breadth and depth of knowledge in phenomenology, hermeneutics, sociology, and somatics (and others) are remarkable, but more than that, I am very impressed and appreciate how she has been mentoring me. She creates a safe environment that I can explore my own journey of learning, giving me just enough hints of directions and nuggets of thoughts, while supporting me with open and warm heart. She understands the learning process for adult learners. She is extraordinary in the way she treats me as equal, both when I was a student and after I graduated. I know I still have a long way to reach to her level (I will never be able to reach), but she makes easier for me to express my ideas and opinions even when they are different from hers. At the same time, with her gentle manner, she often opens my eyes to the things I could not see before. She has been very good at involving me in scholarly projects even after I graduated, and I really appreciate it. She is very good at keeping the phenomenology community alive. The mentoring relationship with her goes more than intellectual level, and it is primarily due to her attitude of perceiving her mentees as precious human beings. Her love of humans and all living beings on the earth is always very inspirational, so is her outstanding courage to expose herself in her phenomenological writings. I am very lucky to have Valerie as my mentor.