SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Hourieh_Akbari “Japan taught me what is important”
When I was three years old, my father came to Japan to study abroad, bringing the whole family with him. When I was a third grader at primary school, I had an unforgettable memory. I wore a scarf for the first time. I had been wearing similar clothes as my friends until then. According to Iranian customs, girls join adulthood when they become nine years old. We have to keep in mind various points and follow a lot of rules in daily life. When we go out, we have to hide our hair and skin and have to pray at certain hours.
At nine years old, I was uneasy and worried about whether I could follow the same customs in Japan, as my family had faced a lot of difficulties in Japan because of differences in customs and religion. My father consulted with his Japanese friends each time and had been helped. Without such kind Japanese friends, he could not have overcome such difficulties.
My father had been thinking a great deal about his faith and asked me also to do the same. My parents had been worried about how I might be hurt or ill-treated and asked for advice from my homeroom teacher. My homeroom teacher kindly arranged a school meeting just for me, inviting my parents and brother.
My homeroom teacher and another teacher stood in front of all the students wearing scarfs and said “We (two teachers) are now wearing scarfs. But, we are unchanged and the same as usual. Hourieh-chan (Ms. Akbari) will wear a scarf from tomorrow, but she is the same as usual.” He called me to the teachers to wear my scarf and said “Hourieh-chan will join adulthood tomorrow. But, she is always a friend of yours. Unchanged! Are you friends of Hourieh-chan as before?” All of the students raised their hands.
I was worried about being ill-treated at first, but on the contrary I became a popular person in our school. Japanese friends taught me to “Be myself !” and “Speak my way of thinking with confidence!” This memory is my life treasure. It is no exaggeration to say that I owe it to the teachers and all the students that I can be myself and behave stately.
Two years later, my family came back to Iran with wonderful memories of our time in Japan. My love toward Japan was unchanged. I made up my mind to study abroad in Japan, and I got the chance to come back to Japan at the age of twenty-nine as a scholarship student of the Ministry of Education to pursue a doctoral degree. Twenty years have already passed since my memorable days in that primary school and I could now enter Chiba University, which was where my father first studied abroad.
One day, in the second year of the doctorate course, I happened to see a gentleman who I recognized in front of the main gate of the university when I was on my way home. I recognized him as the schoolmaster of our primary school and I ventured to call out to him. When I talked about the old days, he could remember me although there was no way of knowing who I was after twenty years. Thanks to this schoolmaster, I could get in touch with my homeroom teacher who gave me a lot of emotion and courage and we were able to meet again.
If my father did not ask for advice from the homeroom teacher and if my teachers did not arrange the school meeting at that time, I would have experienced life very differently. Thanks to these events, I realized how important it is to convey and understand my beliefs and emotion accurately and with confidence. I also realized that we could bring peace and prosperity through such thinking.
I learned a lot of important things this time through my meeting with the wonderful Japanese and foreign students in Japan. We could all understand each other as human beings regardless of nationalities, languages and religions. If I could add one more important thing, it is my husband, from Costa Rica. I have learned that there is a man who has a similar way of thinking and similar values as me.
Japan taught me and gave me many important things. I can’t thank Japan enough.
( Special Researcher of Graduate School of Humanities and Studies of Public Affairs, Chiba University)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sonja Dale