Asumi Nonomiya Suzuki joined VIA’s American Language and Culture program in 2002 as a freshman at Keio Univeristy. This fall she is entering the International Education Policy Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Below she traces the impact of the program on her life and her decision to return to school.
The seeds for my work in the field of educational development were planted during my time at ALC, and I made lifelong friends who continue to inspire me. While at ALC, I was stimulated by the various ways in which problems in society were being tackled by students. I had the chance to get involved in community programs such as Bread of Life and the unrelenting passion of students and community members convinced me that grassroots efforts can significantly improve intricate hurdles we face.
I wrote my ALC research paper on “The Effect of Diversity on Education” which highlighted how diversity can impact students’ involvement with the community. Intrigued by education’s role in developing such opportunities, I started volunteering for educational NGOs in Japan, including one assisting Asian children in Japan struggling with school, an institute for community leaders in developing countries, and started an NGO C-FA (Chances for All) to raise awareness of such issues among youth in Japan.
While working with these Japanese NGOs, I discovered financial, managerial and structural constraints restricted their impact. Realizing that financial and business knowledge would be essential to overcome these limitations, upon graduation, I joined the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs. After two years, I joined the Tokyo Foundation and the Alliance Forum Foundation to pursue my true passion. Currently, I am working with educational partners in Bangladesh developing an international program that develops professionals who can use tools like microfinance to solve societal problems.
As my next step, I will be studying at the International Education Policy Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, focusing on how we can leverage grassroots educational initiatives to build better education policies for marginalized children. No matter what challenges will cross my path, my ALC days will continue stimulating my endeavors.