Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.9 Ms. Kiku Brell


Ms. Kiku Brell is one of the successful alumni of the Special Training College program of Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. She graduated from Sundai Travel and Hotel College in Tokyo in 2007 after she had completed one year course at a Japanese language school. Formerly the President of the Palau Association of the Japanese Government Scholars, Ms. Brell is currently serving as the Special Assistant to the President at the Office of the President of the Republic of Palau.
Ms. Brell applied for the Japanese Government Scholarship after she graduated from Mindszenty High School. While waiting for the result of her application, she first decided to study in Mission College in California, USA. It wasn’t long after she started studying at Mission College when Ms. Brell received a notice from the Embassy of Japan in Palau about her acceptance for the MEXT scholarship. Her strong desire to be more independent made her take the opportunity to study in Japan, and she moved there in 2004.
Ms. Brell enrolled in Bunka Institute of Language in Shinjuku, Tokyo in her first year. When she first arrived at her dormitory, she met a “senpai” or an upper-class student from Samoa who helped her settle in by showing her how to take the train, apply for a train pass, get her school ID and where to shop for groceries.
The classes at Bunka Institute of Language were all taught in Japanese which was a bit challenging for Ms. Brell. She said that it was very helpful for her that she had learned the basic Japanese language for two years at Mindszenty High School before she went to Japan. Ms. Brell eventually became so fluent that she would speak Japanese with her friends from other countries. After she completed her Japanese language studies, she went on to study Travel Business at Sundai Travel and Hotel College for two years and graduated in 2007.
During her free time, Ms. Brell tried to make the most of her time in Japan. She traveled to many parts of Japan such as Hokkaido, Okinawa, Nagoya and Kagoshima. Ms. Brell also enjoyed watching fireworks at natsu matsuri (summer festivals) with her friends wearing yukata (summer kimono). She loves Japanese food, especially sushi, sashimi and chawanmushi (Japanese savory egg custard).
When she completed three years of her studies in Japan, Ms. Brell was happy that she finally achieved her goal, but felt sad at the same time since it meant she had to say goodbye to the close friends she made in Japan. She was able to make unforgettable memories with her friends. The wonderful thing is that Ms. Brell is still in touch with her friends whom she met while studying in Japan, and they are going to have a reunion in Tokyo in 2025.
Living in Japan taught Ms. Brell valuable lessons such as good work ethics which she says has helped her with her career. She also encourages Palauan students to apply for the Japanese Government Scholarship.
Finally, with 2024 marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Palau and Japan, Ms. Brell feels that the relationship of between the two countries is a special one. Additionally, since she started working at the Office of the President, she can see the fruit of the relationship and she really appreciates of Japan’s support for Palau.