Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.6 Mr. Kaipo Ibab Recheungel
Mr. Kaipo Ibab Recheungel once said that he loves the Japanese phrase “ichigo ichie” which means “a once-in-a-lifetime encounter” based on a concept of cherishing every moment you get to meet people because it will not happen again. Kaipo’s journey exemplifies that. His story as one of the Japanese Government Scholarship alumni teaches us to embrace new experiences and opportunities.
Mr. Recheungel went to Xavier High School in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia for four years. After graduation, he came back to Palau and enrolled at Palau Community College in 2001.
After taking a semester in PCC, he decided to venture overseas to study in Japan in April 2001 under the Japanese Government Scholarship. He adjusted well to his new life in Japan and made a lot of great memories. He started his journey by studying the Japanese language at Bunka Institute of Language for the first year and then attended Trajal Hospitality & Tourism College to study tourism for two years until he graduated in 2004.
During his first year in Japan he lived on his own in the dormitory. Having prior experience with Xavier High School, living in a dormitory was easy for him. After living in the dorm, he was able to find an apartment of his own that was also near the dormitory.
Not only did he do well in his studies, Mr. Recheungel thrived further by getting a part time job at a traditional Japanese inn called “Kimiryokan” in Ikebukuro, Tokyo for two years. Some of his duties included briefing the guests about the inn and arranging transportation for them. During his time at the Kimiryokan, he was surprised to find out that the owner of the inn used to live and work in Palau as a nurse and her husband owned a hotel in Palau before the war.
Furthermore, Mr. Recheungel had another part time job teaching kindergarten students traditional Palauan dance. Through his part time job, school camping trips, home stays with Japanese family and friends, he learned the Japanese language quickly and got to understand so many things about the Japanese culture and the people.
Mr. Recheungel is a big fan of Japanese cultural festivals. In fact, he has joined several omikoshi (portable shrine) festivals and loved how taking part in this festival unites people as they work together to carry the omikoshi to its final destination. He also got a chance to visit a Ninja house during one of his summer breaks, which Mr. Recheungel recalls as one of his favorite memories. Moreover, he remembers his experience with taking part in a tea ceremony, enjoying concerts, and watching nodojiman (NHK TV’s amateur singing contest).
Since his return to Palau, Mr. Recheungel has been contributing to the country in various fields including tourism, health, education and environment. He works sometimes as a Japanese language teacher, translator and tour guide.
Mr. Recheungel started his own delivery service business in August 2017. He is also a member of Palau Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, President of Sonsorol Men’s organization and the Magistrate of Merir municipality.
As a former recipient of the Japanese Government Scholarship, Mr. Recheungel supports activities to promote Japanese culture in Palau organized by the Embassy of Japan, as well as online sessions to connect with Japan alumni from other countries all over the world as a representative of the Palauans who went to school in Japan.
Mr. Recheungel looks forward to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Japan – Palau diplomatic relations in 2024. He says that the relationship between Japan and Palau is moving forward and is stronger than before. He wants to see more cultural exchange programs with the places in Japan such as Okinawa, Zao Town in Miyagi Prefecture among others. As a Japan alumnus he wants to use his experience and expertise to help at the local level to gain more support for the bilateral relations from the community. He also feels that it’s important for Japan alumni to keep in touch with each other, to share information and help promote Japanese culture together.