I had been interested in foreign countries ever since I had studied visual arts at an arts university. I was constantly thinking about how I could go overseas after graduation. But I was just a young man with no money and no connections. That was when I came across the poster for the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. I was assigned to the national parks department in Senegal. The section I worked in was concerned with persuading the citizens to stop poaching and cutting trees. My job was to produce educational videos.

“This was the only school in Japan that I could study “ICT4D”, and coincidentally it was in my home town of Kobe.”

The Kobe Institute of Computing is the only place to study ICT4D!

After this I was presented an opportunity to become involved in the project in Senegal to open an Information Technology Department in a vocational training center. I was there for 3 years as a project coordinator. During my time as coordinator, we started using digital video techniques and editing on computers as the old methods of cassettes and VCRs were replaced. This helped me realize the importance of information technology and the vital link between ICT and development. One day, I came across an ad for the Kobe Institute of Computing introducing its brand new ICT innovator course. I immediately felt that this was precisely what I needed. This was the only school in Japan that I could study “ICT4D”, and coincidentally it was in my home town of Kobe.

Getting in deep in an environment at the same time as being overseas

All the classes in the Innovator Course are presented in English. Many people may think this is a big hurdle for them. But actually I only studied English up to college level. I spent time in Senegal after this, but they speak French. But language is mostly about just getting used to it. I tried to speak French as much as possible while I was over there, and with some similarities to English grammar, I don’t find it strange now that I was able to pick it up naturally. I really think it is a special experience being able to experience an environment like living overseas by taking the Innovator Course in Japan. Taking classes everyday in the same classroom as my foreign classmates. Getting real information from around the world. Being immersed in this environment for 2 years. These are priceless treasures.

The significance of studying in Kobe

It is also great that the school is in the middle of the city. It is very close to the Sannomiya district of Kobe, so we are surrounded by views that would not be out of place in a foreign country. There are plenty of places to buy foreign food, and I guess it is easy for foreigners to live here. There aren’t any of the amazing facilities you might find at another university like campus grounds or student meals, but we can treat the whole of Kobe as our own campus, can’t we?

I have now turned 50, but there is still so much I want to learn. I think it is important for people to continue to learn, irrespective of age. There is no limit on learning. After graduating from the Kobe Institute of Computing, I want to use my new knowledge to help people around the world.

Toshiro Takahara