Interview: Kudo

From Syria
Went to Turkey in 2013 and lived there for 10 years
Came to Japan in October 2023 and is currently studying at a Japanese language school in Chiba Prefecture.
Interviews were conducted twice, before and after her arrival in Japan.

<Before coming to Japan>

Q. Please tell us about your experience before coming to Japan.

I’ve been living in Turkey since 2013. It’s been 10 years .Initially, I came here for a brief period to accompany one of my family members who required surgery. However, considering the circumstances in Syria, my mother made the difficult decision to stay in Turkey. Being all alone in a new place made it exceptionally challenging, but my mother made this sacrifice for the sake of our education and to provide us with a better life.

During my childhood in Syria, I enjoyed a simple and joyful upbringing surrounded by relatives, until the outbreak of war. At the onset, we didn’t fully comprehend the significance of the word “war,” but as we witnessed fear etched on the faces of our family members, our own trepidation grew. Despite the extremely challenging and perilous circumstances, my mother persevered in sending us to school.

Reflecting on my past, as I have matured and placed myself in my mother’s shoes, I recognize her remarkable courage in choosing hope amidst the risks. This valuable life lesson has deeply influenced me. Consequently, whenever I encounter challenges in life, I am reminded of the immense sacrifices my mother made for us. This perspective strengthens my resolve, making it difficult for me to give up easily, regardless of the difficulties that life may present. I am determined to keep pushing forward.

Being in a different country isn’t not an easy thing.  I have learned a lot from both positive and negative experiences. After facing numerous challenges, including instances of racism, I found myself questioning whether it was somehow wrong for me to be Syrian. Initially, I thought that if I simply disregarded this idea, all my problems would be solved. However, I soon realized that this perspective was unrealistic and that others had influenced me to feel this way. Subsequently, I made the decision to delve deeper into my history, culture, and the nature of humanity. This led me to embark on a journey of exploration, ultimately inspiring my choice to go to Japan.

I’m going (hopefully!) at the end of this month. I’m nervous, not gonna lie, but I’m so excited. It’s a new Journey for me, a new chapter in my life. 

Q. How have you prepared for coming to Japan with Pathways Japan?

Pathways Japan provides us a basic education  online so that we can be prepared to go to Japan. I also believe that they are improving that, to making it more than just basics because they know students struggle when they arrive there.

Orientation sessions have proven to be immensely valuable in my life, and I have always yearned for such guidance. The clear instructions provided during these sessions have instilled a sense of comfort within me, as they outline the necessary steps for the future. I genuinely appreciate the support and assistance offered. Notably, for Syrian students like myself, the process of preparing documents can be particularly challenging. However, the support I received throughout this endeavor was instrumental in alleviating my concerns and ensuring a smoother transition.

Pathways Japan it’s like not an organization for me anymore, it’s like a family. Because I am so comfortable sharing my ideas with them, and my disagreements. Since I’m a religious person, I have things that I can and I can not do, I want to follow that, they respect that for the end of it. So whatever I’m telling them “oh I can’t do this”, they just provide me with a lot of better options that can fits me. 

<After coming to Japan>

Q. How do you feel about coming to Japan and what is your plan for the future?

My mother has always emphasized the significance of knowledge and the opportunities it brings, which is why I find myself in Japan. This country boasts a remarkable cultural heritage and offers abundant prospects. Despite leaving behind a familiar life, I firmly believe that the opportunities make it entirely worthwhile. It feels as though I am living in a picturesque dream where my aspirations are coming to fruition. I am genuinely thrilled about the days that lie ahead.

Life has taught me that every experience has something to teach us. I am certain that my time in Japan will be filled with a multitude of valuable experiences. I understand that this journey may not be solely characterized by happiness and vibrant colors; there may be challenging moments as well. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that I hold the power to shape my own path and choose my own direction. Drawing upon the lessons learned from past experiences, I aspire to make my life better and strive for a brighter future.

I have a genuine desire to become a better version of myself, surpassing the person I am today. My ultimate goal is to be someone whom my mother and the other people who have supported me throughout my journey can truly be proud of. Their unwavering belief in me serves as a constant source of motivation. I simply aspire to make them proud, regardless of the path I choose to follow.

  • Click here to view the full-length video produced as an introduction of the organization supported by LUSH’s charity product “Charity Pot”
  • Click here to read other interviews with students with backgrounds of refugees and displaced persons as well as Japanese language school.