On a summer afternoon, I had the chance to catch up with Ishiuchi Yoshiki (APS, 2nd year) after his campus tour for GASS. Standing out in the crowd with his exquisite Afro, yet seeming slightly reserved, Yoshiki started to share his upcoming plans, and eventually revealed to me his unique worldview and experiences.
On Languages and “Happiness”
A speaker of Arabic, Swahili, Dzongkha and several more languages, Yoshiki developed his interest in Arabic, shortly after getting accepted to APU, where he was determined to learn how to introduce himself in 50 languages. His relentless pursuit of languages is also aligned with his passion towards studying and tackling challenges in areas where they are spoken.
Diving into the realm of foreign language learning, he began to be concerned about Middle Eastern issues and Islam, and later had his research goal clarified on the encounter with the Kingdom of Bhutan. Before coming to Bhutan, Yoshiki read a lot of books about the “happiest country”. Paying a 10-days visit to the country and observing the culture with his own eyes, Yoshiki realized people seemed happy. “When asked why they are happy, Bhutanese people told me that they were not sure why, but they felt happy. Because they were Bhutanese they were happy.”- Yoshiki disclosed. He once thought Happiness is having a family of his own, and being able to spend time with his family when growing old. However, the experience broadened up his perspective that Happiness concerns not just himself, but also all living creatures. “If I feel happy then others will also feel happy. It’s the synergy effect proved by science.”- the young fellow commented.
Yoshiki believes having the “Things will work out” mindset is the key to Happiness. He also observed the idea “Things will work out” is rooted in Bhutanese mindset, yet the number of Japanese people who embrace such an idea is relatively small. Continuing our conversation about “Happiness”, Yoshiki contemplated the opposite of “Happiness” is Sadness. With that being said, if one wants to have more Happiness, he will start looking for money, fame, etc. Yet if minimizing sadness is the goal, he will pay attention to treasuring Friends and Family. Happiness and Sadness are like the heads and tails of a coin, connecting people with people. Such perspective comes down to his realization Bhutan is not the happiest country, but the place that has the least sadness.
On Problem solving
Thinking about Happiness every day, Yoshiki is seeking ways to adopt the Gross National Happiness (GNH) into solving the ongoing problems in the Middle East. He will be an exchange student for half a year, starting from September, at San Diego State University (America) and further his studies in International Security and conflict resolution . After coming back to APU, Yoshiki plans to do more research into GNH, whose knowledge in the future, he expects to utilize and solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Yoshiki wants to work in The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). He plans to pursue his graduate education in Peace Studies at Bradford University (England). He is also looking forward to going on Bhutan Prime Minister’s fellowship for one year to learn more about the GNH concept, though he is unsure when the acceptance is open. Until then, he plans to work for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and UNRWA.
On Empathy and Leadership
Yoshiki considers himself as a person who does things nobody has ever done before. Normal things are not his cup of tea, so he sees the need to go and see the world with his own eyes. “Reading materials and Internet grant you 50% of the understanding of what you want to know, but if you go and experience, you will understand the rest 50%.”- he denoted.
Having a strong will to lead his own future in his own way, Yoshiki surprised me when he said he does not want to be the one to lead people. “In fact, I want to be the person whom people want to be led by.” For our fellow, a leader is the one to have empathy, hence his great respect for the Fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck - the People’s King. He defined “Empathize” as “becoming the other person”, and revealed that studying languages is actually a way for him to increase more empathy for others. Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart." which Yoshiki takes as the navigator in the pursuit of foreign language study.
Listening to Yoshiki gave me inexplicable peace and positivity towards embracing our differences. His unorthodox journey reminds me that there are always various approaches towards life, and the true people are those who muster up enough courage to walk the path they believe till the end. I thank Yoshiki for his heartfelt sharing, wish our life enthusiast all the strength and support, and will never forget the words he said before putting on his giant backpack and rushing back to his busy schedule: “While looking for the definition of “Happiness”, I feel Happy.”