I was born on October 11, 1943 and graduated from Nagasaki Prefecture Women’s College in English Literature in 1964. From that time onwards, I began to teach English at several junior high schools. In 1991 I received an award from the Hita Board of Education for my activities in International Relations between our school and Twallity Junior High School in Oregon, USA as a sister school. In 1996 I became a Vice-Principal for 4 years, thereafter for a period of 4 years I became the principal of an elementary school. There are still few women principals in Japan. So I tried to do my best to better the education of the youth, improve the school environment, and my relationships with the parents and community around my school.
During my life as a teacher, I was married to a man who was also a teacher and we had two sons. We started accepting homestay students in 1972. Our first motivation for homestay offers was to receive students from the Tokyo-area who were alone in dormitories on New Year’s Day. We live in the countryside where we still have many traditional New Year’s events, food, etc. We wanted the people who stayed with us to experience a Japanese-style New Year’s Day with a Japanese family. We have welcomed many international students from the USA, China, Thailand, France, Peru, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Germany. How many countries? How many foreign students? I cannot remember exactly.
I have learned about so many cultures, ways of living, and a few words in foreign languages also. My family and I have had wonderful, exciting and heart-warming experiences through homestays. We still keep in touch with some of the people we have met. I live in a small town, but I have family all over the world. Even though we live far away, we feel close to them.
After I retired from school, I began to work as a counselor at Oita Prefecture Welfare Office. I counseled mainly teachers, youths and parents. There are many difficult cases and problems which I did not know about until then. For example, an increase in single mothers, their lower incomes, neglected children, children with problems going to school, and mental illnesses. I visited nurseries, schools, homes and met people. They released their sadness and stories of their life difficulties. Listening is the best form of counseling. So, I tried to listen with my heart, and if necessary offer them some suggestions.
Now I am the head of the Amagase Community Center. I will try to improve my cpmmunity’s local social education, particularly at the schools, as well as general social education and counseling. I learned this through my experiences with homestays, that is above all the most important thing is “heart.”