Sophians Talk about Japan and the World

It's important to keep challenging yourself and asking questions.
In doing so, you are bound to make new discoveries.

Kurara Chibana
(Model, Japanese Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme)

How the Phrase "Experience Everything" Changed My Life

Kurara Chibana Model, Japanese Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme

Since high school, I had desired to study a wide range of subjects, including psychology and philosophy, in the field of humanities at a university. Therefore, I entered the Department of Education under the Faculty of Humanities, at Sophia University (the Department of Education was later reorganized under the Faculty of Human Sciences). I chose to major in philosophy of education and minor in international education, because it allowed me to simultaneously study two of my interests. My four years at Sophia University provided me with valuable opportunities to speak with members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and to research and write reports on the state of children's education in developing countries. Through these experiences, I was able to broaden my world view.

The unique classes offered at Sophia University, a Catholic higher educational institution, also left an impression on me. For example, in a lecture on ethics by a professor of the Faculty of Theology, I was exposed to ways of viewing things from a religious perspective, and was truly inspired by these viewpoints. Additionally, I realized that lecture contentvaried depending on the underlying perspective of each professor, and that there are many different viewpoints in the world. During my time studying abroad, Japanese universities began to discuss the future of global education in Japan. I loved the worldview expressed in French films, so I spent a month in France on a short-term summer study abroad program during my second year. It was my first time abroad. After that, I went on a year-long language study abroad program. I believe this experience has contributed to who I am today. I always dreamed of becoming an editor: I loved writing articles and, after I inherited a single-lens reflex camera from my father, I loved taking photographs. Therefore, I wanted to get involved in editing magazines. After looking for a job, I was lucky enough to receive a job offer from a publisher I dreamed of. The president of the publisher told me to "experience everything", which totally changed my life.

In the spirit of "experience everything", I applied for and was selected as the Japanese representative in the Miss Universe pageant. After agonizing over the decision, I turned down the offer from the publisher and moved on to the international pageant. Although I entered the pageant on my own, I never dreamed of advancing through the rounds, even at the international level. I'm glad I faced up to the challenge in the spirit of doing my best.

A Keen Awareness of the Importance of Visiting and ExperiencingLocal Sites

Kurara Chibana Model, Japanese Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme

Last year, I was appointed as the Japanese ambassador of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), of which I have been an official supporter since 2007. I think I have also played an active role in my activities as a supporter. On my own initiative, I visited areas experiencing problems due to food shortages, talked with WFP personnel at least once a year, and shared what I had learned. In dealing with such problems, no amount of reading or text-based research would reveal the kind of assistance that is necessary. As such, I became keenly aware of how important it is to visit various locales, view matters with my own eyes, and consider the situation based on such experiences.

Last year, when I became a member of the Cabinet Office's Advisory Committee on Cultural Exchanges in Asia, I toured Thailand and Indonesia. Once again, I got a strong sense of the importance of visiting and personally experiencing a place. People have been talking about the "Age of Asia" for some time now, and, in rapidly developing Asian countries, the excitement is truly palpable. Many women are distinguishing them selves in the field of business, and the people there are overflowing with energy. Thus, I thought, wouldn't it be great if Japanese people ventured out more and shared in the excitement of these booming Asian countries?

In recent years, an increasing number of universities advocate for the cultivation of globally-minded human resources. I think there are many things students can learn by simply stepping out of their country. People commonly say "globalism," but there are actually different types of globalism. Depending on one's position, matters can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. I believe that being aware of this fact changes everything.

In Japan, we don't have many opportunities to participate in forums or debates during our education, while children in Western countries are very good at debating. They do not hesitate to change their viewpoint in order to consider the other side's perspective, or objectively analyze the other side's arguments. I believe the skills are indispensable in our increasingly global world.

The most important thing, of course, is what your own interests point you toward?always be aware of what you value, and continuously challenge yourself in your areas of interest. In doing so, you are bound to make new discoveries.

Comparatively speaking, one's time in college represents a period in which one has more free time. I hope college students will use this precious time to carve out their own niche by working hard on the things they love and feel passionate about.

Outfit: Pink and black bi-color dress (Vivienne Tam), gold star-shaped earrings (chigo)

Kurara Chibana Model, Japanese Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme
Kurara Chibana
Model, Japanese Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme

Born March 27, 1982. From Naha, Okinawa. Exclusive cover model for Shogakukan's Domani magazine, appears in many programs and commercials, including the regular programs Global Vision (BS12) and Chibana Kurara no Precious Life (Kurara Chibana's Precious Life) (JFN). She has also served as an official supporter of the United Nations World Food Programme from 2007 onward and was appointed as the Japanese Ambassador for the World Food Programme in 2013. She actively visits local sites in places like Africa and Southeast Asia and conveys the messages of people at these sites to people in Japan.

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