Alumni: Kaori OKUBO, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)



2005: Participated in e-ECBO (Engineers to Cross BOrders Program) and interned at SATAKE Co., Ltd. in Thailand.
2006: Participated in i-ECBO (Explorers of International Cooperation Studies to Cross Borders Program) and interned at ALMEC Corporation in Vietnam.
Joined JICA. After postings in the Rural Development Department; JICA’s Syria Office; Secretariat of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers; Economic Infrastructure Department; a temporary transfer to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Personnel Department; Financial Cooperation Implementation Department; and two maternity leaves; Okubo was appointed to JICA’s Cambodia Office from January 2018, where she is in charge of infrastructure, yen loans to Cambodia, ports and harbors, and mining. Okubo’s two sons (1 and 3 years old) have accompanied her to Cambodia.


In a spacious meeting room where soft sunlight filters in, I listen to senior officials explaining the nation-building visions they have, and when and how to build the infrastructure to support the country. I try to draw out the thinking of that country and I make proposals. Thus the discussion becomes deeper. I have seen this scene somewhere before. As I try to remember where, I am reminded of the urban development project in Vietnam’s Hanoi ten years ago, that summer when I participated as an ECBO intern. Then as a student intern I was an observer but now I have the role of leading the discussion. Eyes wide open and cheeks flushed with the heat, I lean forward as I talk.

Now I work in a JICA office at an overseas location, at the forefront of international cooperation. My responsibilities lie in the infrastructure field. Working in international cooperation means working side by side with the people of that country to realize their dreams of how they want their country to be, and to help bring those dreams to fruition. Because it means working closely together on site, it is the most interesting and exciting job. It was a dream which I had roughly sketched out ten and something years ago. Then in my internship, I got to actually meet people who were in that world that I saw in my dream and spend lots of time with them. I was able to see how my dream could actually become true and what had just been a dream became my goal. Before I realized it, after going through the process, I had made my dream come true. Walt Disney said “If you dream it, you can do it.” For me too, having a wish and actually seeing how it could come true, I was able to create the future I desired. I feel that very strongly.

In your student life, I’m sure you are very busy with your study, club activities, hobbies, travelling, and part-time jobs. But jumping out of your comfort zone and searching for how you imagine yourself in ten years’ time, doing some soul-searching and creating your dream for the future is actually a huge investment in the future. Make sure you find the time to invest in yourself and carve a path to your own bright future.