Global Talent

“My family got a lot of media attention while me and my seven younger brothers were growing up in Hiroshima. Maybe it’s because our father is Australian, our mother is Japanese, and there weren’t many big multicultural families (if any at all) in that remote part of Japan. We were on a TV show that ran for a few years, but it ended five years ago so I don’t walk around streets while people stopping me. I guess we were a unique family and it made me close to my siblings since there was really no one we could relate to apart from ourselves. However, I did struggle with my identity as a kid. I was so desperate to be accepted as a Japanese. People would ask me where I’m from, and whenever I said Hiroshima, they’d say, ‘But where are you from?’ Suddenly I am the Australian and no longer Japanese in their eyes.

“Years later, I moved to Tokyo after finishing university in Australia and I finally found people I can relate to and talk to about the identity issues that I’ve been through in my childhood, and all the things I couldn’t really talk to my friends back then. There are people with so many diverse backgrounds in Tokyo who I can actually talk to about these things. While there are still many aspects of Tokyo that are very Japanese, as long as you look in the right places and find the right people, it’s a multicultural and global city. People are open-minded, which is different from when I was growing up, where I was known as the person with very different opinions. Now I’m not the weird person with the weird point of views. Everyone is weird in their own way.

“I think people in Japan, especially in Tokyo, are starting to realize that globalization is not outside of their life anymore. It’s so important now to be able to communicate across cultures that one buzz word we hear a lot is グローバル人材 or global talent. Students and parents are aware of its importance, even if they don’t plan on working overseas. And the easiest way to learn cross-cultural communication is to step out of Japan for a little bit to experience a different culture. Then learn their language and bring that experience back into Japan, and using it in society. When you come back, you’re a completely different person, with a completely different perspective. Right now, I work for Australia’s board of education to assist Japanese students to study abroad there and I see a big difference in their confidence level in speaking and expressing themselves in English. It’s very encouraging.”

“Double personality is something that really resonates with me because when I was growing up, I feel like I had two different personalities. That’s how I’d describe my upbringing. I still pick and choose who I discuss deeply about my opinions. With Japanese people, I come to a very quick conclusion whether they’re the type of people I can have an opinion or if it’s better to 合わせる awaseru (match the other person’s style or thinking).”

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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