Hi, I’m Tatsuo Yamazaki taking a gap year in year 4 and doing an internship abroad in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I came to Cambodia from March 2015 and will stay until December 2015.
Kamonohashi Project (Kamonohashi) which I am working at is Japanese NGO aiming the world without child trafficking. In Cambodia, Kamonohashi is running a project to create jobs for Cambodian women born in poor household families in rural areas.
My roles at Kamonohashi are increasing sales at a directly managed shop selling souvenirs produced by Cambodian women in rural areas. I’m planning to improve display, product promotion, how sellers can communicate with customers well. In addition, I have a role in guiding customers visiting factory in rural village.
The reason why I am doing an internship abroad in Cambodia is just I followed my heart in short lol. In October when I was year 3, a half year before starting job hunting, my head was fuzzy. At that time, I had a dream that “Want to support poor people” vaguely but I couldn’t draw the detail vision and I thought to start job hunting somehow.
Just at such a time, I found a video of Steve Jobs’s legendary graduation speech on a video streaming site. I was impressed so much from his word, “Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” As I wanted to work abroad once, I immediately searched for “gap year internship”. The first page of the search result was about “Recommendation of strategic gap year”, so attractive event. And at the event, I met Kamonohashi.
The advantage of joining an internship abroad which I felt actually is that I could experience both of “Working at a company” and “Living in a different culture” at the same time.
During an internship, we can learn the basic of work. Before starting my internship, I was excited to be able to work in the field of social business of international cooperation, I was interested in, among undergraduate students. And since I was assigned to the sales department, I was looking forward to how much I can increase sales.
However, when I came to Cambodia and started my internship there, I was made acutely aware of how I could not do anything. As a college student, I did not have any skills and I had to do everything by feel. It’s been six months since I started my internship, but I still fail many times. I have not able to increase sales and I don’t even know basics of work. I can’t follow basics for work like reporting, contacting, and consulting and my boss gets angry. I am still learning lots of things from my boss. There are tons of basics of work I need to learn from my boss but through looking back why I failed, considering how to avoid failure next time one by one, I feel that I become to understand what working is little by little.
Another one, the good point of living in a different culture, I think it is common and many people mentioned already but we can experience that common things in one’s country are not common in abroad on my skin and we can understand the difference of culture and the way of thinking. Through these experience, we would be able to see things from different angles.
For example, in Cambodia, it’s common to ride 3 or 4 persons on a motorcycle. The number of passengers is not controlled and I often see as many persons as possible ride on a car or a motorcycle. Sometimes just a small kid drive a motorcycle, it quite surprised me. In Japan, children are prohibited from driving motorcycles.
On the other hand, through seeing and hearing such unbelievable things in Japan, I felt my world broadened. I had lived in a small world. I understood the judgment of good or bad depends on each country well and I learned how my world was small.
Through doing an internship abroad, I got an experience of working at a company, at the same time, I got unique insights that I can never get in my country. That’s why I think the advantage of doing an internship abroad is bigger than doing an internship in own country.
Before joining the internship abroad in Cambodia, I did not feel living my own life. Until I was a high school student, I had been worried about what other people think and I had lived in the same way as other people do. So, I felt I had not had a freedom to decide myself and it was very few to think that my daily life was fun.
When I decided to take a gap year, my family was against me. I think they wanted me to graduate my university in 4 years and get a job at a famous company.
However, as opposed to my family’s opinion, I am feeling freedom as I do what I want to do, and I feel that “I am living my own life!” My satisfaction with my life is also much higher than before. All the reason of it is doing what I want to do. I think so. You know, it is more fun to do what you choose yourself rather than to do what parents ask or what other people do. Of course, it entails responsibility but following my heart and I am doing what I want to do so my satisfaction with myself is high and there are more things that I feel happy now.
In Cambodia, there are many people following own heart and doing what they want to do like students doing internships abroad, entrepreneurs dropped out universities and started own startups, and guys left jobs and started own shops. They seemed crazy at first sight lol, but once I talked with them, I found they are nice.
If you can’t decide whether you would do an internship abroad, I recommend you jump in without hesitation. Don’t follow other people’s opinions and social pressure, I want you to follow your heart and intuition. Cherish your own heart!
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