Miyo Takahashi Le
Miyo is our volunteer coordinator- she connects those of the community that want to volunteer for the festival to us, and she also organizes student volunteers. She has been involved since our first event, and she is a vital part of the festival, connecting the Japan Festival team to the volunteers.
Q. What is Boston to you?
A. Boston is my second home. It is where my family, friends, and colleagues live. Before coming to Boston, I was working in the field of Education in London. My boyfriend asked me if I would come and live with him since he was working there and so I decided to move to Boston. I did not know anyone other than him and his family in Boston, and I felt homesick more often than not. I knew that wasn’t healthy, so I started volunteering for a Japanese magazine company then worked as a translator, tour guide and educational consultant. Now I have a network here in Boston because of those experiences. I then had my daughter (10) and son (4), and I am now connected to other Japanese moms and families in the surrounding areas. I am now working with Showa Women’s Institute Boston Campus as the Program Service Manager, helping students during their stay in Boston.
Q. What do you do at Showa Boston Institute?
A. Showa Boston Institute is a satellite campus of Showa Women’s University which is located in Setagaya, Tokyo. We host nearly 200 students from the main campus studying English communication, Global Business, and International relations for periods of 5 months up to 17 months. My work has everything to do with their lives while they are here in Boston – from visas, community outreach, student conflicts. I often am the point of contact for students and I connect them to the appropriate staff and faculty. I also have experience studying abroad in England for grad school, so I apply my knowledge and experiences to give advice to students. I aim for my students to be able to communicate in English, but also independence and self-reliance, as well as problem solving skills as a result of their time here in a foreign country.
Q. What is Japan Festival Boston for you?
A. I’ve been a part of the festival since 2011 when it began. It’s now at the point where it has become an important part of my life. Although our event is one day, once a year, we’re constantly working towards the next event throughout the year. People of different backgrounds come together to put together the event. We’re all busy people but we each complete our individual tasks and come together as a team. The event is the results of those individual and team efforts. It is incredibly gratifying to see the event happen, and once we de-installed the tents and do a final sweep for litter, and we look at our event space at the end of the day. Words cannot describe this feeling.
Q. What does the volunteer team do?
A. I’ve been involved in the festival since it started and I’ve been responsible for coordinating volunteers. Without volunteers, we would not be able to run this festival. It may not seem significant for one volunteer to participate, but with 200+ volunteers from Showa and 100+ volunteers from our surrounding communities, we can make Japan Festival a fun experience for everyone involved. Our community members include students studying Japanese, medical professionals, researchers, teachers, and people in academia. Volunteers are assigned tasks including support for team members, booths, stage, and information booths. We make sure to assign tasks that each individual will succeed in. My goal is to make this volunteer experience the best it can be to encourage our volunteers to keep volunteering with us to make a festival that is really brought together and put together by the community.
Q. Any last thoughts?
A. I believe that there are qualities of Japan that can be realized by living overseas. We as the staff of Japan Festival want to share our experiences and help you “Find your Japan right in Boston”. If you would like to volunteer with us, please let us know!