Q&A with TOMODACHI Program Participants and TOMODACHI Alumni: Marina Yagi
In this interview, we sit down with Marina Yagi, a participant of the 2019 TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellowship, as she shares her study abroad experiences in the U.S.
Q1: What are you studying in the U.S. now?
In 2019, I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to study international business strategy for an MPS in Global Fashion Management. In my classes, I’m studying business policy and international culture and business. Next semester, I have marketing and branding and retail classes. We do case analysis on both successful as well as failed cases of corporate development in areas outside the field of fashion. I’m also working on solutions and strategies by myself for hands-on management techniques. I’m practicing listening to high-level English exchanges, beyond daily conversation, while keeping an English dictionary close by.
Q2: Comparing before and after the program, have you experienced any changes?
Because of Japanese school culture, I wasn’t used to asking questions. So, I felt uncomfortable raising my hand and sharing my opinions. But in the U.S., raising your hand and asking questions is the standard. With the help of my classmates, I was gradually able to raise my hand and confidently ask questions.
My perspective toward “clothing” has also changed. Since I began studying fashion, my thinking has shifted to see that clothing equals “numbers,” not just “design.”
I’m able to notice things I’ve never noticed before: the differences in the cost of fabrics, retail prices if goods are manufactured in other countries, ways to manage imports and sell fashions, and so on.
Q3: What do you do in your free time?
I usually go to different types of events in New York City for some stress-relief and for pure joy. I especially love musical performances! You can find anything and everything: classical, rock, jazz, R&B, to house, and so on. There are so many music cultures there. I really enjoy the many free live shows, and screaming and dancing with everyone who feels free to express themselves.
Q4: As you concentrate on your studies at graduate school, do you have any other focus or interesting goals for your next steps?
I’ve had more chances to consider various kinds of perspectives in the U.S. Particularly in New York, I’ve had more opportunities to think about sustainability of natural resources, which has become a special issue for me. I’d like to work toward “zero waste” in the fashion industry, and to share this way of thinking and knowledge in Japan. I hope to encourage a sense of ownership over the idea of no waste in society person by person.
Q5: What’s your new year’s resolution for 2020?
Sometimes I feel like I am not bold enough compared to people in the U.S. I’d like to be someone who can clearly state my opinions and say yes or no with strong confidence.
Q6: What does “TOMODACHI” mean to you?
TOMODACHI taught me the importance of breaking the language barriers while respecting the cultural differences of others, the significance of providing opportunities for coming generations to learn English, and the value of the connection between Japan and the United States. Many in the U.S. are open-minded and interested in Japanese culture, which made me feel even more confident in my nationality and broadened my interests in others. TOMODACHI gave me the chance to meet new friends globally.
Q7: Can you share a message with those interested in participating in the TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellowship?
Staying open minded is very important in the U.S. While you are studying abroad, you will face some hardships or difficulties. But you can overcome those difficulties by staying open-minded and trying to communicate with others. Then, you can have a positive view of your study abroad experience.
I’ve also become very close with some past TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellows and have continued to stay in touch with them. They have given me some advice and shared ways they are collaborating with each other. I’m looking forward to meeting with the new TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellows!