Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.1 Ms. Damaris Koshiba


     Ms. Damaris Koshiba went to Japan to further her education in October, 1985 under the Specialized Training College scholarship program offered by Japanese government after graduating from high school.  
     Ms. Koshiba’s parents both spoke Japanese and that motivated her to want to study Japanese. She attended Bunka Institute of Language for 6 months to study Japanese language and continued on to International School of Tourism with students from FSM, Fiji, Malaysia and other countries. She studied hard with a kanji dictionary she bought in Japan, and managed to learn the language while she was there. She made a lot of Japanese friends and even traveled to Okinawa and other parts of Japan with them. She also enjoyed going to local festivals in Japan.
     Ms. Koshiba experienced living in a dormitory in Tokyo that had “mama-san” and “papa-san” who watched over the students living in the dormitory. There was a dorm kitchen for everyone to eat meals together and her favorite food was rice and curry. The students in the dorm had to follow a curfew, which they were  expected to come back by 9:00 pm. The rules that she had to follow while in the dormitory and other cultural norms in Japan such as being respectful and being on time are some of the important things that shaped her. Even today, Ms. Koshiba makes every effort to be punctual always.   
     Through cultural exchange programs, Ms. Koshiba’s family had the opportunity to host a Japanese boy who came to Palau as an exchange student. After that Ms. Koshiba met the Japanese boy’s family in Japan. They took her to different places in Japan and even dressed her up in a kimono to participate in “Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting,” where Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Japan receive the greetings from people at Imperial Palace.
     After returning from school in Japan, she has been working at her husband’s business until now. She said the experience she gained in Japan has helped her in her current life and work, and she hopes that her own children and young Palauan students will have a chance to study in Japan as well.