Bio

Yamagata, Japan (1985)

I was born in Yamagata, to a small restaurant owner. I was the fourth and the youngest child. I made great friends there and lived a peaceful childhood. However, growing up was not easy. My father had bipolar disorder and once threatened to kill us all. My mother was a hypercritic and never acknowledged my accomplishments or personality. I believe that these intolerable factors prompted me to get out of Japan.

Vancouver, Canada (2004)

When I was 18, I decided to move out from Japan and study in Canada. I had a dream to work for the UN back then. Born and raised in the Japanese countryside, I barely knew English. But I crossed the Atlantic Ocean anyway because I knew that I needed to change. However, soon I developed agoraphobia (an extreme form of general anxiety disorder) and became incapable of going outside. I secluded myself at home for the next two years. 

Vancouver, Canada (2006)

As agoraphobia was debilitating, I knew that I had to step out of my house. Hence, I went to a homeless shelter in Vancouver, First Baptist Church (shout out to everybody!), to volunteer. There, I witnessed inequalities, addictions, psychological issues, and many other forms of injustice. Meanwhile, I also volunteered as a music therapy assistant at a nursing home. I played songs that the elderlies requested on the piano. These activities made me realize that I was born to serve. 

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Kenya (2008)

Before moving to NYC to attend Columbia University, I had to overcome my agoraphobia. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I visit Africa. It might sound crazy (and I was!), but I reasoned that if I could survive in Africa, I could survive anywhere. In Kenya, I had some panic attacks but realized that I could survive as long as there are gravity, water, air, and people. 

The United Nations, NYC (2010)

As I was studying in NYC, I started an internship at the Japanese Mission to the UN at the UN Headquarters. It was my dream come true! Luckily, General Assembly in 2010 focused on Millennium Development Goals, and had a chance to visit Africa again. I reacknowledged how crucial developmental issues are dealt in the realm of international politics, which had been both a blessing and a curse. I felt that the UN was not the place for me.

Columbia University, NYC (2012)

At Columbia, I double-majored in Sociology and Philosophy because I wanted to understand how "self" is built. In other words, I wanted to understand myself and the world. As a person still fighting with agoraphobia, these subjects were very helpful. I also met a great psychiatrist and got much better. I was awarded several named scholarships and graduated with honors. 

Tokyo, Japan (Present)

I was heartbroken after learning that the UN or the Foreign Ministry would not accept me. This is why I decided to zero in on education. I wanted to help youths actualize their potentials and become leaders of a peaceful world. So this brings me to who I am today. I am an educator who is also a student of my students. I finally feel settled. 

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© 2021 by Namiko Suzuki
 

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namikism@gmail.com

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