Vale Professor Carol Hayes

Carol Hayes

Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for a while and leave footprints on out hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Nothing resonates as true and hard as today, as we try and carry the burden of the tragic news that our very own, dear Professor Carol Hayes has passed away. Once again, the irony of life strikes—taking away someone so full of life much too soon. She fought bravely and fiercely against her cancer battle and she continued to inspire everyone with her outlook to live each day to the fullest.

Carol was surrounded by her family and loved ones in ICU as took her last breaths on 16 October 2022.

The Life and Times of Carol

Carol’s impact in the world of Japanese language teaching in Australia is nothing short of extraordinary. She will always be recognised for her creative education design, charismatic teaching and innovative use of technology.

Her expertise lay in Japanese Language and Cultural & Literary Studies, with a focus on cultural production (including literature, film, popular culture and craft) and language teaching methodologies and practice. Her research interests included modern Japanese poetry, the portrayal of social/cultural issues in literature and film, how Japan has been represented in Australia and the impact of Japanese creative arts on crafting practice around the world.

Carol’s research—which will remain timeless and relevant—also includes Japanese language teaching methodologies and practice, particularly e-Teaching and e-Learning with a focus on flexible, online learning, student motivation and Japanese language acquisition, and professional development for academic staff in the Learning and Teaching space.

Her 1996 PhD research into the poetry of Hagiwara Sakutaro included two years as a research student in the Comparative Literature and Culture Department of the University of Tokyo, under a Monbusho Postgraduate Research Scholarship. After working as a translator and interpreter in Tokyo, working primarily for the then Ministry of International Trade and Industry, she began her career as an academic, working at ANU and the University of Durham.

At ANU, Carol held several educational leadership roles, including Associate Dean of Student Experience (2017–2020) at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and Co-Chair of the ANU Educational Fellowship Scheme Committee. She was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2013), a National Teaching Award (2013), and the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation (2016). She has served on the Executive of Japanese Studies Association of Australia, the ANU Japan Institute, the ACT Duke of Edinburgh Board, and as an Australian representative to the International Conference on Japanese Language Education (ICJLE).

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The Poet in Her…

Carol was also a distinguished scholar of Japanese poetry and a passionate poet and artist with an amazing network of alumni, community and academic colleagues.

Poetry for Carol spoke to the current emotions of a society, reflecting darker emotions, fear survival against the odds, a loss of faith in governments and institutions, and a growing fear of the monster within.

One of the most recent conversations one remembers with her is about some of her favourite poetry. She always said, “Metaphoric imagery through poetry, illustration and cultural expression serves as a guide to simulate conversations about life pathways and meaning.” She used to quote many of her favourite poets, including Murakami Ichiro.

Carol said “Murakami died too early, but he comes back to us every spring in the flower of the aging cherry.”

And so she quoted in this context a verse from a tanka poem by the wonderful Baba Akiko, arguably the greatest living woman tanka poet today:

“Cherry Blossoms さくら

You grow old 花幾春かけて

How many springs? `老いゆかん

the sound of water, flowing 身に水流の

echoes within our bodies 音響くなり

Reflect on the beauty of older cherry trees, not to only think of the blossoms that are young. Not to focus only on the image of the transience of youthful beauty, but to also think about the twisted sinews of an older tree that still flowers each spring.

I see myself now towards the end of my career as just such an aging cherry tree, (though perhaps a flowering snow gum in my case), that is still beautiful, still providing a shelter for blossom viewing parties, an umbrella for those coming up beneath my sheltering bows. I hope that shelter will provide those I mentor with the strength to oppose the silences in our curriculum and to disempower English as the language of power in the educational experience we provide.

We must look beyond the light into the silence and the shadows.”

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Keep Flowering Amidst Us…


Dear Carol, may you rest in peace. May you blossom every season all around us, as a flowering gum or a Japanese cherry blossom, and spread your love and magic to each of us and to the profession you loved so dearly.

Your childlike giggles will forever ring in our ears, just like the sound of a flowing stream, as we reminisce the good memories we were fortunate enough to share with you.

We love you Carol. May God give your family the strength it needs now more than ever. And as you embrace your new abode, we are certain you will make your presence felt grandly there too.

RIP, you beautiful soul.

Watch Carol sharing her perspectives on monolingualism, culture and Japanese poetry on the occasion of International Women's Day 2021.