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Graduates activity(Department of Regional Development Studies)

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Inspired to Tackle New Challenges while Studying Abroad

Ayano Okamura
DHL Supply Chain Singapore

Graduated from the Department of Regional Development Studies, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, Toyo University in March 2011

岡村朱乃さん

 “The valuable experience I gained as a student inspired me to tackle new challenges,” says Ms. Ayano Okamura who graduated from the Department of Regional Development Studies in March 2011 and now works for DHL Supply Chain Singapore. Since joining DHL a year ago, she has been involved in the import and export of goods to and from Japan. Having sharpened her communication skills to the point that she can communicate effectively in English with virtually any English speaker from any country with little or no hesitation, she will be assigned to a training team in April 2013 where she will devote herself to training new employees. Ms. Okamura is excited about this new challenge.

 “Singapore is a trading hub. People from many different countries work here at DHL. I enjoy talking to my colleagues and learning about the cultures and societies from which they come. I frequently go on short trips alone to nearby countries to experience more of the world around me,” says Ms. Okamura. In the past year, she has visited China, Thailand, Indonesia and several other countries.

Desire to see the reality of developing countries

 Ms. Okamura selected the Faculty of Regional Development Studies because she wanted to study developing countries.

 She says, “I spent 18 months in the U.S. when I was a high school student. My roommate was from Thailand. When she told me about human trafficking in Thailand, I was shocked and I also wanted to try to understand why people in developing countries often find it difficult to escape from poverty.”

 After returning to Japan, she visited Toyo University on an open day. She had a chance to talk to a professor of the Faculty of Regional Development Studies about what was on her mind and his response was “Toyo University has what you are looking for.”Ms. Okamura recalls, “His response made me decide to study at Toyo University. The curriculum exceeded my expectations.”

 In the second year, she studied at Southwestern University in Cebu, the Philippines, for six months and transferred credits. This experience was exactly what Ms. Okamura was looking for. “If I had not enrolled at Toyo University, I would not have had this opportunity to study in the Philippines.” Japanese people’s image of Cebu is that of a resort, but in fact there is a lot of poverty and one sees quite a few street children. To see the reality with her own eyes, Ms. Okamura decided to study at the School of Social Work of Southwestern University. While in the Philippines, she did an internship at an orphanage and fieldwork in a slum district.

 “When I visited a slum, people who didn’t have enough to eat offered me cola in a glass that they washed in the river. I was very moved by their kindness. It is a memory that I treasure.”

 Returning to Toyo University, Ms. Okamura joined a seminar of Professor Maria Rosario Piquero-Ballescas, a sociologist from the Philippines. Under her supervision, Ms. Okamura wrote her graduation thesis, titled “Globalization and Children without Nationality in Japan,” in English. She reflected on her experience in the Philippines in her thesis.

 Being an activist by temperament, Ms. Okamura in the third year established an association called “Heart Bazaar,” to support communities in developing countries through sales of fair trade goods. This association is still active at Toyo University. Fair trade is a scheme for providing reasonable pay to producers in developing countries to support improvement of their lives. Through her involvement in fair trade, Ms. Okamura became more interested in import/export and eventually started working at DHL.

 Ms. Okamura says, “What makes the Faculty of Regional Development Studies so attractive for me is its emphasis on field work. You go out into the field to gain practical knowledge in addition to lectures. I’d like to take up many challenges in order to support development in Asia.”

岡村朱乃さん