Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.7 Ms. Yuri Kishigawa


   Ms. Yuri Kishigawa is one of the successful alumni of the Japanese Government (MEXT) scholarship. She did her research in psychology at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan for her Master’s degree. Ms. Kishigawa was able to achieve her success through hard work and the ability to adapt to a new environment. Her story is about taking on challenges and learning how to overcome them.
   Having finished her sophomore year in high school in Palau, Ms. Kishigawa traveled to Hawaii and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1987. After she graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 1994 and came back to Palau, she started working at Palau High School as a Counselor. While working at PHS, Ms. Kishigawa wanted to expand her knowledge even further.
   She was told by a faculty member of the University of Tsukuba that their education curriculum was very good. Encouraged by that, Ms. Kishigawa decided to apply for the University of Tsukuba through Japanese Government Scholarship. She was successfully chosen as a recipient and left Palau in April 2003.
   Ms. Kishigawa managed to adapt quickly to the things around her in Japan. She would ride on a bike to get around, budget her money wisely, and try hard to learn the Japanese language. She said that learning Kanji characters was a difficult task for her, but having no English speakers around helped motivate her to learn the language. She even became an English tutor to elementary students while she was immersed in her studies.
   Although she was raised by a Japanese mother and a Japanese-Palauan father, she still experienced some culture shock when she was in Japan. However, instead of being afraid of or overwhelmed by the differences, she chose to embrace them and was always looking for something exciting to do.
   During her free time, Ms. Kishigawa enjoyed shopping at the used goods stores and loved to eat various Japanese dishes. She particularly enjoyed eating sushi. She even got a chance to visit Kyushu, her father’s birthplace. Reflecting on her experience, Ms. Kishigawa said that she has tremendous love for Japan and she had fun while she was there.
   After 2 years at Tsukuba University, she came back to Palau to apply the skills that she learned in Japan. She was happy that she was able to learn a lot from her experience and it has helped her with her career.
   Ms. Kishigawa has been working at Palau High School as a Counselor for 25 years now and has no plans in switching jobs. She said that she loves working with the students and wants to help them become model citizens in the future.
   As an alumna of the Japan Government Scholarship and a Counselor for Palau High School, she has been encouraging her students to step out of their comfort zone and to apply for the scholarship. She believes that the Japanese education system can help further polish their academic skills and discipline. Additionally, she stated that going to Japan can help students learn how to budget their money and become independent.
   Ms. Kishigawa hopes that Japan and Palau can continue to support one another. As the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and Palau is soon approaching in 2024, she also wants to see more collaborations between both countries in the future.