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Blog #10 My Trip to Japan

I was back in Japan for a while from late September to early October. During my visit, I was honored to give a lecture at the Department of Occupational Therapy at Kanazawa University, where I previously studied to start my life over again at the age of 30! I was invited by my university professor, Prof. Shibata, to present keynote talk to third-year students in occupational therapy. From the perspective of theory and practice of dementia care, I briefly spoke with students about person-centered dementia care and cultural humility, which I use as frameworks. I was also able to highlight and share the dementia care model that I am currently creating as a tool for caregivers and professionals. I’ve set a goal to present this same care model at an international Alzheimer's Conference to be held next spring. As I’ve mentioned on this website, I believe that it is necessary to have a humble attitude and practice in order to respond to diverse cultures, not only in the United States, where the diversity co-exits, but also in Japan where the number of foreign residents is expected to increase in addition to the number of foreigners engaged in healthcare. My hope is that the students who will become wonderful occupational therapists in the future can understand and integrate my idea of what a healthcare professional should be into their lives and professional practices.

I was born and raised in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, and my mother, who is now 93 years old, lives alone in Kanazawa. Since the construction of the Shinkansen (bullet train) connecting to Tokyo, Kanazawa has become more international, and there has also been an increasing number of tourists visiting from overseas. Currently, when I walk around the city, I can now hear various and diverse languages. Perhaps some of these tourists are unfortunate enough to visit or be admitted to the hospital due to illness or injury. In such cases, our prejudices and stereotypes about other cultures that we may or may not be aware of should not interfere with treatment and care of these visitors. I think it is important to understand the concept of cultural humility in order to engage in cross-cultural exchanges in a truer sense, not limited to healthcare field.

To all of you majoring in and focusing on occupational therapy at Kanazawa University, please become an occupational therapist who will be equipped with cross-cultural experiences and spread your wings around the world. This cross-cultural expertise combined with a culturally humble practice will only help you to serve your clients better! I'm rooting for you. And thank you for having me and being open to my frameworks that are intended on supporting both you and your future clients in a quickly diversifying world!

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