My journey of resilience & its rewards

Am I Resilient?!

Starting in March of 2020, I have been consuming an overwhelming amount of online content in an attempt to track the labyrinth of chaos we are facing in our world today. While writing this piece, there were times that I felt paralyzed and unable to bring my words to light.

Professor Patty Goodman and myself at the Global Pathways Student Conference 2019

My struggle was mitigated when Professor Patty shared her observation of my recent educational experiences. She described it as a Journey of Resilience. I had never thought of myself as Resilient. Yet, upon reflection, she might be right.

Researching resiliency – My perspective

Before proclaiming myself as resilient, I had to learn more about the concept. I read a journal on resilience definitions, theory, and challenges, along with interdisciplinary perspectives. The most striking perspective on resilience is that it can be in different aspects of life.  One could be culturally, biologically, emotionally, academically, and/or professionally resilient (Southwick, Bonanno, Masten, Brick, Yehuda, 2014).

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Illustration of transformational learning with unexpected rewards

Finding My Place in the Cross-Cultural Communication Field

It was three years ago that my career gained what I thought was to be my launch into the global market. After graduating from college and achieving my dream job of working at a huge corporation in Tokyo, the unexpected occurred. Within six months, I quit and moved back to my home country, the USA.

Mika wearing a yukata, a Japanese summer kimono, during study abroad in Japan.

Deciding to leave so quickly shocked not only my community, but also myself.  I had spent four years learning about Japanese language and culture.  Having studied abroad, researched, and interned in Japan. I had braced myself for expected sexism in the workplace, strong drinking culture, and even power harassment. However, the one thing that was I had not prepared for was my own lack of cultural agility.

Despite knowing what the Japanese perspective might be, I found myself defining right and wrong. I would often deem Japanese corporate culture to be unhealthy for its collective mindset, in contrast to my valuing individuality and freedom as someone raised in the USA. When I ended up leaving Japan to pursue a career in cross-cultural communication, I came away from the experience subconsciously wanting to fix Japan.  I had a vision and a strategic plan; next steps were to gain the tools.

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