Reflections from Yukiko Miyatake


10358915_10153268949276097_6263742492211552970_oTwo weeks has already passed since I arrived in this beautiful city of Seattle but, surprisingly, they have felt long. I think it is because when I look back at the last two years before coming to iLEAP, I realize that I didn’t have much time for thinking about myself deeply. I was working on several projects finding ways to support Southeast Asian countries. I challenged myself with many things like joining fair-trade activities, studying international development in Malaysia, and doing internship in Philippines. These experiences gave me a lot of perspectives for people living in developing countries.

But on the other hand, it got harder and harder to think about how I can contribute to those efforts while also being myself.

Through this iLEAP program, I am starting to ask myself who I am. One of the lessons gave me a very powerful idea: social entrepreneurship does not start from social issues; rather, social entrepreneurship comes from asking who am I?

Now I feel that it is time to answer the question of who I am and rethink about my style of social entrepreneurship. In these past two weeks iLEAP has given me the tools so from now on I am going to try to practice them though the activities that I do. At the end of this program, I would like to move forward on the next steps to learn ways of how I and people living in developing countries can grow together, by ourselves, with our own answers of “who I am”.

Born and raised in Osaka, Yukiko is in her third year of Ritsumeikan University studying international relations.

Her passion about fair trade has been her great motivation to go abroad and work internationally to deepen her understanding of social justice. When Yukiko was in her first year, she went to Thailand to conduct a research project about fair trade with minority hill tribes staying in their home during her research. Through this experience, Yukiko realized the importance of experience to understand what their life is like, what they want and how they feel about fair trade, not from what we think they feel or need. This learning moment formed her fundamental belief that values direct communication to deepen understanding of any social issues. After this experience, Yukiko studied in Malaysia for a year in order to gain additional perspectives about fair trade and international development. During her time in Malaysia, her assumptions and beliefs were challenged but she became more flexible when facing unexpected situations. Towards the end of her stay, she found herself enjoying the challenging process of finding better approaches to changing environments. Currently Yukiko is doing an internship at Nomura Research Institute, the largest Japanese think tank in the Philippines to deepen her understanding of business in a developing country.

Through the iLEAP TOMODACHI SIIS Scholars program, Yukiko would like to find a way to do business which both developed and developing countries benefit from. Yukiko aspires to clarify her vision by connecting what she learned from her international experience with what she will learn from this program. Yukiko is looking forward to having a positive social impact on Southeast Asia and Japan.

Kei Eriksen

Kei Eriksen

Kei is originally from Japan. After gaining her B.A. in Humanities, Kei worked at an adult education institute for several years, designing and implementing language study programs with international instructors for a mostly Japanese audience. During this time, Kei advocated for many of the instructors who did not have enough access to resources in Japanese society. This experience has led Kei to the realization that in order to create programs to deepen connections at a personal level, she needed to further her career and experience overseas. In 2009 Kei received her M.A. in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont.