Lives of the Nikkei scholarship 'Dream Come True Project' students ～ Megumi Mallari
Why did you decide to study in Japan?
I lived in the Philippines my entire life, yet I have always felt a deep connection to the Japanese culture. Whenever my family and I would come to visit our relatives who live here, I would always get curious about what it is like to be in Japan and to live here. I realized that it must be because I wanted to get to know the Japanese part of me more and figured that the best way to do that would be to study in Japan.
How is your life in Japan?
Life in Japan is very convenient- the mass transport system is impeccable, the convenience stores are everywhere- but as convenient as it is, it has also been a big adjustment for me. When I moved away from home at 17, there were a lot of responsibilities that I had to shoulder as it was my first time living completely alone. Luckily, I never felt lonely thanks to the Kaigai Nikkeijin Kyokai and my fellow NFSA scholars who assisted me. Even though I am the only Filipino-Nikkei scholar in a group composed of mostly Latino-Nikkei, I never felt alone. Everyone is very kind to me and I feel like I have a family in Japan. I spent my first year in Japan studying Nihongo. My Nihongo studies was not very easy, but having my fellow scholars a door knock away from me at my dorm made it so much better. With the Nikkei scholarship, I am also given the opportunity to learn more about some relevant issues in Japan and my identity as a Nikkei with the trainings that are held four times a year. I am currently in my second semester in university and I look forward to meeting new people and experience new things, to broaden my horizons and perspectives about the world.
Tell us about your present study or research.
I am currently a university freshman studying Political Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University in Tokyo. I am also involved as one of the leaders in a university circle where we provide support and conduct events with asylum seekers in Japan.
Did your consciousness as a Nikkei change in any way through studying in Japan?
Yes, it has. More than anything, I think interacting with my fellow scholars from the Nikkei scholarship during our trainings has greatly impacted my consciousness as a Nikkei in a positive way. Having been studying in Japan for almost two years now, I think I am also beginning to deeply understand the Japanese way of life and thinking, which will surely help me in my future career and activities. In the future, I hope I can contribute to the Nikkei community in my country by bringing home all the wonderful experiences that I continuously gain here in Japan.
What is your dream for the future?
It is my dream to positively contribute to the Nikkei community in the Philippines and help in strengthening the relations between the Philippines and Japan by becoming a diplomat. I think I am very lucky to live in a time where the Philippines and Japan have made strides in the process of moving on from the Second World War and I aspire to further cement that bridge that connects both countries.
Please give a message to students who are considering studying in Japan.
Do it! Japan is a beautiful country with such a rich and beautiful culture. Although you see that when you come to visit the temples, shrines, towers and famous streets, it is only until you stay for long that you begin to appreciate the country for what it truly is. Studying in Japan is the perfect opportunity for you to broaden your perspective about the world. There will be challenges: the culture might be very different from what you grew up with, the people’s way of life may not be what you are accustomed to, and the attitudes of the people you meet might not necessarily match yours. However, it is in finding the courage and self-reliance to leap over these hurdles that you learn and mature as a person. You will see yourself grow and change in ways you have never imagined before and it will be a beautiful transformation! Starting a new life in a country miles away from home may seem scary, but once you take the risk, you might just find yourself discovering a second home! Remember that every accomplishment starts with the decision to try!