Noriko INOSHITA FS2016-17, The University of Tokyo | from Japan to The Philippines
I study Agronomy at the University of Tokyo. Some professors in my major work for developing countries by researches of stress-tolerant or high-yield crop varieties and so on. I’ve admired that kind of help but at the same time I wondered if it is really useful. How can a Japanese researcher in Japan assess needs of farmers in developing countries? Are they really used on the ground? That is why I applied to this exchange program in University of the Philippines. I took courses of Agricultural Extension and learned how agricultural technologies are and should be communicated to farmers. I also did a small research about the adoption process of an agricultural technology in a community.
It gave me a very important perspective since it is crucial for an agricultural researcher to think how the research can really help farmers in need. At first, it seemed hopeless for a foreigner to establish equal relationships with farmers and grasp their real needs. I saw even Filipino professors are treated as “guests” in communities. However, my 1 month internship in International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) somehow showed me good sides of being foreigners in developing work. This experience let me pursue a career to help farmers in developing world by developing and delivering useful techniques. I got to encounter a professor in my university who worked in IRRI before. He visited there when I was there and I learned a lot from him.
This 1 year also gave me different perspectives towards life. I am a Christian and I’ve been a minority in Japan. In the Philippines I became a majority and that experience showed me both good sides and bad sides of being minority and majority. My roommate for the second semester was an Indonesian girl. She was my first Muslim friend and that was a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed her company. We learned a lot about our religions but never quarreled. Now I know that friendship is not about religion or nationality or everything but people. Indeed when I came back, I was little sad to see how uniform people in Japan are. I also met people with different career paths and they influenced me a lot. I was very shocked to meet ladies from Myanmar who left their little children to pursue their PhD. Nothing is impossible.
I really appreciate the Victor and William Fung Foundation for providing me financial support for this 1 year in the Philippines. I was able to concentrate on studies both in Japan and the Philippines. I hope I can grow to be worthy of this support and I am sure that this experience in the exchange program will help it a lot. Thank you very much.
Noriko INOSHITA (2nd left)
Noriko INOSHITA (2nd right)
Agriculture in the Philippines