From Palau to Waseda
GSAPS Master's Program, first year
Ms. Emilia Auriel. Katosang

Ms. Emilia Auriel Katosang
The flower on her right ear is the national flower of Palau, the Temple tree (Plumeria). The pendant she wearing is traditional Palauan money (udoud er Belau), which is made of stone.
Palauan dancers who performed at the Aichi Expo on Palau Day in traditional costume.
Palauan dancers who performed at the Aichi Expo on Palau Day in traditional costume.

A childhood spent in contact with Japanese culture

Born and brought up in Palau, which was under Japanese administration for 31 years, from 1914 to the end of World War II in 1945. Her grandfather can speak Japanese. When she was a child, she sometimes heard Japanese Enka on the only radio station in Palau, so she has a feeling of closeness and familiarity for it. Like her grandfather, most Palauans not only do not have negative feelings toward Japan, but are very positive about Japanese culture, she says. You can feel this when you see that her grandfather is really happy to see an NHK program on TV and takes an evident pride in translating and explaining the program to his grandchildren. From her childhood experiences, she is interested in and familiar with Japanese language, Japanese food, and Japanese toys such as otedama (Japanese beanbags). "I'm going to go to school in Japan some day!" she said to her grandfather when she was in the 6th grade. Now that desire has become a reality. "Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before I came to Japan. But how pleased he would be if he knew", she says with a big smile.

Impressions of Japan

The first thing that surprised her when she came to Japan was the number of people in Shinjuku. She had never seen so many people in one place before. She was also amazed at the bicycle traffic jam she saw in the morning in front of a nearby kindergarten. She was used to life on Palau, where people get into the car to go even short distances. The Japanese custom of putting children on a bicycle and riding all over struck her as extremely healthy and environmentally friendly. The only thing it's been hard to get used to in Japan is the strictness of Japanese culture with regard to time. In Palau, you might say there's a concept "island time", which means that people are quite loose regarding punctuality. That is why she has had a hard time getting used to the Japanese concept of time. But other than that, Japanese life poses no difficulties for her. In fact, she feels that it is easy to live in Japan because Japanese people are so kind and helpful.

Her dreams for the future

Since there is no 4-year college in Palau, students often go to the U.S. to continue their education. She herself graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo double majoring in Political Science and Administration of Justice. Now she is studying International Relations under the guidance of Dr. Michio Yamaoka. "Studying international relations has made me realize that I don't know much about East Asia even though we’re neighbors. I think this opportunity has a great deal to contribute to my future”, she says. After finishing her master's degree, she wants to go back to Palau and work for the government--perhaps the Bureau of Foreign Affairs or an Embassy--with the knowledge she acquired at Waseda.

Copyright (C) 2005 Student Affairs Division, WASEDA University. All rights reserved.
First drafted 2005 July 28.