by N.A.P., retrieved from the Consulate-General of Japan press release
Mary Hammond Bernson, Director of the East Asia Resource Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of her contributions in promoting understanding of Japan in the United States and educational exchange between Japan and the United States. The award was announced by the Government of Japan in April 2018, and Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle hosted a private reception celebrating the conferment to Bernson on October 12th.
A high school teacher at the time, Bernson first visited Japan in 1981 as a researcher at Keizai Koho Center and quickly gained an interest in Japan. After returning to the U.S., Bernson started working at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington and devoted herself to creating a curriculum introducing Japan at American educational institutions.
Actively participating in teacher-exchange activities between Japan and the United States, Bernson accompanied American educators to Japan as part of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. As part of a sister-state project between Hyogo Prefecture and Washington State, Bernson made great contributions dispatching educators every other year from 1992 to 2012 as Washington State coordinator in collaboration with the Hyogo Business and Cultural Center Seattle office.
In addition, since the beginning of the JET Program in 1987, she has greatly assisted the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle as a JET screener for the selection process of JET Program candidates. Bernson enthusiastically told students at the University of Washington and other educational institutions about the significance and appeal of the JET Program and actively improved recognition of the program in the United States. Through her many contributions in promoting understanding of Japan in the United States and educational exchange between Japan and the United States, Bernson has made an invaluable and lasting impact on U.S.-Japan relations.