Friday, December 19, 2014

Foreigners Working in Kochi ③

Mie Seki
(Kochi City, from Shangdong Province in China)
   The last person we will introduce is of the nationality that likely occupies the top spot for number of foreign spouses of Japanese people in Kochi and maybe even Japan. Mie Seki came to Kochi from China, had children here, and now works hard every day to balance her work and family.

   Mie originally came to Japan in 1999 to complete a training program in electronics and spent a total of 3 years living in Tosa City and Okayama Prefecture. She met her current husband during this period, and after spending a year back in China after her training, returned to Kochi to start married life.
   Mie passed the N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test while in China, so she already had good Japanese when she first came to Japan and didn’t face many language difficulties while completing her training. However, once she started her married life, she had trouble understanding Tosa-ben (Kochi dialect) and didn’t know any fellow Chinese people in the area like when she was studying electronics before, so she felt isolated and homesick.
   Mie knew she had to take action to break out of the suffocating rut in which she found herself. She got a job at a ramen shop that she saw an ad for in a part-time job magazine. There she was able to make friends, and her homesickness naturally melted away.

   Next she enrolled at a computer and accounting school on her husband’s recommendation and gained several qualifications in those fields. Mie says that the knowledge and qualifications she gained at this school later helped her find work.

   After experiencing computer and design jobs, Mie had two children, and is currently juggling raising her kids, taking care of her home, and working part-time during the week at a company that designs, makes, and sells measuring devices.

   When asked about hardships she has faced, Mie quickly brought up having children. She has no choice but to take time off from work when her children get sick. In China, she could rely on her parents and relatives without hesitation, but now they live too far away. One time she had to take off a whole week. She now works extra hard every day to make sure that she doesn’t cause more trouble for her company.
   Mie says that she has even cried in public before when she was having trouble with her children. She was able to resolve her issues by making friends with other mothers in her neighborhood and at her children’s preschool. Although many Chinese people prefer to solve their own problems by themselves, Mie describes her own personality as needing to tell her problems to others.

   Finally, when asked what advice she would give to other foreign mothers with circumstances similar to her own, she said “Be brave and go outside. Make friends, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.” Although taking the leap to live in another country certainly requires courage, we were able to see from our interview that Mie has her bright and positive personality and her husband’s understanding to support her all the way.

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