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This is my Real Self
Finding One's Self by Traveling Around the Globe
The Chronicles of an Enthusiastic Waseda Girl

Ms. Mari Hamada

"Just what is it that I can do?" contemplated Ms. Hamada, after having made it through Waseda Festival 2008 as a member of the management staff when she was a third year student. Having enrolled in the university of her dreams, she was set to share her enthusiasm at Waseda. But something was missing... the flames inside her own self were dying down. She felt that there was so much in this world that she had yet to see. That's the answer! She should travel around the world and try to find herself again. "I'm the type of person who, when she decides on something like this, isn't satisfied until she completely follows through," she said with a laugh.

Putting her words into action, Ms. Hamada decided in January 2009 to take a year-long leave of absence from school and travel the globe. In May, she had already set off on her journey. Including Africa, Asia, and Europe, she visited a total of twenty-two countries, and performed volunteer activities in six. The thought that provided her with the drive to volunteer was, "If one has the desire to do something, there must be something that she should be able to do..." But reality was different. Ms. Hamada, who was lacking in specialized knowledge, found that she couldn't even lend a helping hand. At a time that she felt, "I was left without a single role that I could fill." Then, a staff member from the area said something to her that opened her eyes. "This is who we really are." Every person has a field in which he or she can participate. Rather than recklessly trying to overextend themselves into other fields, people should set about doing what they were meant to do. In countries that have experienced cooperative volunteer activities, there live many people whose highest priority is to survive the passing days. It was for these reasons that, after hearing the words of her fellow staff member, Ms. Hamada felt that "there isn't anything spectacular about being able to do something the same as someone else. There is something out there that I am able to do precisely because I am who I am."

After she found a version of herself that wasn't always trying to bite off more than she could chew, Ms. Hamada discovered that her people skills also underwent a change. "I gained the ability to ask anyone about things that I don't understand." She hadn't exactly been a shy person, but it was true that she had trouble showing her genuine self to just anybody. After traversing the globe, her stubborn self underwent a complete transformation. Her heart grew in size without her even knowing. Despite supposedly only having an affinity for Japan, she made friends from all over the world. One thing that she felt after returning home was the difference in ways of thinking between Japanese people and people from other countries. In contrast to Japanese people, who tend to start off with a negative perspective on things, people from other countries tend to be positive. She wants to incorporate that way of thinking, in which even unexpected accidents can be enjoyed, into her daily life.

In the future, Ms. Hamada wants to work at a job that allows her to connect people with other people, and she eventually would like to start up her own business - one that can contribute to society. However, she will never forget working out on the front lines and the intense feelings that she experienced. "I don't claim that circling the globe, in itself, is a great accomplishment. Whether it be taking the civil-service exam or aspiring to become an entertainer, the goals that people pursue are good things. But everyone has a field that they are good at, and has something that they should be doing. I believe that finding that 'something' is a very important first step."

Believe it or not, Ms. Hamada has always had a poor sense of direction and, even after finishing her travels around the world, still cannot read a map. However, though it may be invisible to human eyes, a huge map that connects the entire world spans across her future.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Mari Hamada

Born in Miyazaki Prefecture in 1987. Graduated from Sayamagaoka Senior High School in Saitama Prefecture and is currently a fourth year student of the School of Education. Her inspiration for setting about on her journey around the world was the novel "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" by the social entrepreneur John Wood. She currently spends her days working as a campus tour guide.