Interview with alumna Yuma Mukaihata
Volunteering on a remote island paves a path towards a career in finance
It all started with the Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC)’s volunteer fair in the autumn of my first year that I became part of the Remote Island Project. The purpose of this project was to examine and experience the realities and issues remote islands carry as students offered their services and ideas for a solution. Through all four years as an undergraduate, I went to Okinawa’s Hatojima Island four times to participate in volunteer activities. We were only there for a week each during spring and summer vacations, but we had meetings once a week on campus to study the history and circumstances of Hatojima and thoroughly planned volunteer activities. During our stay, we held many kinds of events such as greening projects and sports festivals at the local schools. We were all responsible for at least one activity, and I was in charge of the beach clean-up in the summer of my third year. Not only did students and residents of the island participate, but I also got tourists involved to remove the marine debris. Through this experience, I learned the challenges of doing something on your own, but sharing a sense of accomplishment together with friends, which was absolutely amazing. In my public economy seminar, I wrote a thesis on promoting tourism in remote islands based on this experience. The exchange on the remote island influenced my career path as well. In order for a region to sustain itself, having a firm financial foundation is crucial. I started to feel working in finance can contribute to helping other people in local communities achieve their goals and dreams. Also, I noticed I enjoy communicating with people through interactions on the island. I wanted to have a long-term relationship with customers, and I decided to join the Development Bank of Japan, which focuses on rural community development. Working in finance will allow me to network with different fields, and I was also drawn to the idea of being able to continue growing while broadening my horizons. Currently in my first year, I am part of a department which deals with airplanes, and my responsibilities include managing finance loans and investment procedures. From here on, I hope to go from one department to another, gaining experience and knowledge, so that I work directly towards rural community development in the future.
Involving tourists to understand the issues at hand on remote islands
Up until the previous years, only students and residents participated in the beach clean-up. However, I wanted tourists on the island to also join because it was a good way to share the issues these islands face. I discussed safety measures with the locals to overcome obstacles and turn an idea into reality. This taught me to stand in the other person’s shoe.
Modesty while learning from others
Learning from those who are experienced becomes your invaluable asset. During the Remote Island Project, I met with different kinds of people on the island, and the elders taught me to be humble while learning something new from others. You should speak after someone else is finished speaking. You should accept your mistakes and say sorry when you need to. These very basic principles are exactly the same even when you are working in society.
※The article is based on an interview conducted in 2015.