US-Japan Exchange (MI)

“If you have a passion, opportunities will come”
“Life is not about how many times you fall down, but how many times you get up.”

By M.I.

Our Experience
We heard from five women in young generation, who experienced both US and Japan culture by participating in US-Japan exchange program or by working in international organization. All of the five guests each told us about their current job and how they got there.

Our first speaker, Ms. Fisher, is a program manager at US Japan Council, an organization that supports TOMODACHI program. Participating in US Japan exchange program herself, she had stayed in Japan for several weeks when she was in our age. Because she loved Japan since that experience, she came back and lived in Japan for a year as an English teacher to elementary school in Japan. Then she worked for Japanese Embassy in US, and now she works for the US-Japan Council. Ms. Kato and Ms. Seto, the second and third speakers, were both Japanese women who lived abroad when they were younger. Using advanced English skill they gained in their school life, they came back to the United States to either get a master’s degree or to work. They also told us more about what they have learned from their job. Ms. Shinohara, a fourth speaker is an Atlas Corps Fellow at GlobalGiving, where Ms. Seto also works. Though she took her master’s degree abroad, she first got job in Japan, but somehow she started to work for international organization outside of Japan, then she got her current job afterwards. The last speaker was Ms. Shoji, a vice president of Kizuna Across Cultures. Since she was interested in Japanese culture, she worked in Japan before, and she also worked at Japanese Embassy in US.

After we have heard all the stories, our group had a chance to talk individually with five guests. We all could ask them questions, or to get some advice.

The Big Ideas
We came up with these two big ideas, which were common keywords for five stories. It may seem strange that we defined the big idea from five different stories, but it is true that we received similar message from all five.

“If you have a passion, opportunities will come.” – This first quote came from what Ms. Shinohara and Ms. Shoji told us. They told us that it is very important to follow your heart, and the opportunities will come to you as you grow up. Do what you want, they taught us; no matter if your parents agree to you or oppose to you. They said that they hadn’t planned anything at all, but because they grabbed the chance came to them, they are now at place where they wanted. Ms. Shoji said though she is making less money in her current job compared to the job she used to have, she is most satisfied with situation now, because she is doing what she wanted to do.

“Life is not about how many times you fall down, but how many times you get up.” The second one is a quote which one of us heard before, and we agreed with this idea as it summarizes their stories. One big thing we learned from them was that there is no road map for your life, so that you can create your life as you want. In order to make a good life, you need to trust yourself and ‘get yourself up’ every time you ‘fall down’.