In 2015, after many years spent living in Hong Kong and London, I left my exciting and demanding work at the Asia Corporate Development Association and relocated to Tokyo due to my husband’s transfer.
Though sorry to leave Hong Kong, I was thrilled by the opportunity to live in Japan as I had previously so much enjoyed my travel there. Several of my friends in Hong Kong had spoken glowingly about their experiences living in Japan – and about CWAJ.
Jennie Orchard and Michiko Okubo were instrumental in connecting me with CWAJ when I first moved to Japan, for which I am truly grateful.
Soon after arriving in Tokyo, I went to my first luncheon and was immediately welcomed. There was no time to suffer from loneliness. I joined various groups and immersed myself in life in Tokyo, including CWAJ. The women of CWAJ all share the vision of increasing access to educational opportunities through the funding of scholarships. I fully endorse CWAJ’s commitment to the “promotion of education and the fostering of multicultural friendships”.
I returned to live in the US in 2016 and became one of CWAJ’s Overseas Members. During the pandemic, CWAJ quickly developed technology to enable us to be more connected and this has proven to be enormously beneficial. I was particularly impressed with the professionalism of this year’s May General Meeting that introduced the recipients of CWAJ scholarships. Kudos to all the exceptionally talented members of CWAJ.
Due to meetings moving to Zoom, I was able to join the 2020/21 Scholarship Committee. There is a huge amount of work involved with running this Committee and the co-leaders did an outstanding job. The talents and breadth of experience of the candidates seeking to further their education was incredibly impressive. Each individual had a very different background but shared the virtues of hard work, thoughtfulness, tremendous drive, focus and intelligence – making it difficult to choose. The Committee was responsible for choosing two candidates to further their education in graduate programs overseas.
One of the women selected for a scholarship is studying for an engineering degree at Boulder, Colorado. She aspires to work with robots on spaceships that will explore the universe. How exciting is that? And women entering STEM professions will contribute to the advancement of all women. So as we look around us and see how these candidates are improving lives in our countries, I wonder if some day we will even be looking for scholarship recipients up in the stars?
CWAJ is also known for its fantastic annual Print Show, the proceeds of which are allocated to the scholarship program. I have purchased so many prints, I have actually run out of space to display them.
I have also decided to support CWAJ by making a donation each year. After being a member of the Scholarship Committee, it is my fervent desire to support Japanese women by funding their education overseas. There is so much talent and, having learned that Japan sits in 120th place out of 153 countries with respect to gender equality, it is clearly important to promote change in this area.
In addition to joining Scholarship Committee meetings via Zoom, I was so thankful that during the lockdown, Mariko Oka invited me to join the monthly Friends of Music group meetings. I so looked forward to participating every month and hearing and discussing beautiful music.
I am also thankful that Miho Kometani suggested joining CWAJ’s Book Club which is run by two excellent co-leaders.
Joanna Chinen has done a great job connecting all of us – as have the overseas membership coordinators, Jennie Orchard and Patty Collins (who recently retired and was replaced by Silvia Wilson).
Thinking about my goals for the future, I hope to:
- Spend time with my grandchildren.
- Travel as much as possible.
- Relocate to an urban area – London or New York.
- Volunteer for organizations I can contribute to.
- Spend as much time as I possibly can in Japan and reconnect with my CWAJ friends. In addition, I have promised to take my daughter and grandchild to the Ghibli Museum and I want to revisit the Mori Digital Art Museum – I haven’t found anything else like it.
COVID has exposed and quickened the fault lines in today’s world, and I believe the next few years will be difficult ones. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live overseas and counsel others in this position to enjoy every minute since you never know when you will leave. Every culture is so different and so difficult to comprehend despite one’s best efforts, but it is important never to give up tryingl My advice to CWAJ members is to get involved as much as you can. Being a part of this outstanding organization will bring great benefits today and always.
CWAJ was founded in 1949 and has contributed significantly to the deepening and broadening of understanding between individuals, countries and cultures. I realize how fortunate I am to be a member of such an outstanding organization.