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Q&A with Multiculturalism Experts Anjeli Narandran and Louise George Kittaka

Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Multiculturalism through Japan’s Eyes,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with two of our speakers, Anjeli Narandran, International Coordinator at Peace Boat, and Louise George Kittaka, a newspaper columnist, university lecturer and cross-cultural trainer featured in The Japan Times and Savvy Tokyo. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality.

Find out how organizations and individuals are helping to open up Japanese society, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, at our meeting this Thursday, October 12. Register for the meeting here!

Anjeli_Photo 2Anjeli Narandran, International Coordinator at Peace Boat

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being so free of worries and regrets that I can really enjoy the present.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing people I love.

What is your current state of mind?
Sleepy! I’m looking forward to the weekend!

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Next!

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My soon-to-be husband, Finlay. 🙂

When and where were you happiest?
Right now. Life is good!

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be able to speak Japanese fluently and with flair.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The friendships I have made and the relationships I’ve nurtured.

What is your most treasured possession?
My passport!

What do you most value in your friends?
The fact that they can laugh at themselves and not take themselves too seriously despite being objectively incredible people.

Which book do you think is a must-read for women?
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. I read it when I was a teenager and it made a huge impression on me. It’s a masterpiece about female friendships and the joys and cruelties they entail.

Who are your heroes in real life?
The tireless peace activists I work with every day. My colleagues are my role models and my heroes.

What is your motto?
Something I learned from doing improv theatre in my youth: Don’t be afraid of something new – just try it. What’s the worst that could happen?

What does FEW mean to you?
FEW is a platform for women here in Japan to bring out the best in one another.

When have you have felt most empowered?
I feel the most empowered when I’m doing something I really love and I know I’m good at – whether it’s running a peace education workshop, performing or making art.

Louise George Kittaka.Louise George Kittaka, a newspaper columnist, university lecturer and cross-cultural trainer featured in The Japan Times and Savvy Tokyo

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Traveling somewhere with my husband or kids. I love exploring new places and, away from the frantic pace of everyday life, we can relax, reconnect with each other and make special memories together. (And get photos for my scrapbooks–see #9 below).

What is your greatest fear?
Losing the people I love.

What is your current state of mind?
Somewhat harried, juggling many plates as usual, mind constantly mulling things over… but this has been my “normal” for many years. Even when I’m out running or at the gym, I’m composing emails or “to do” lists in my head.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I’ll say ‘courage’. It’s a great thing to be courageous, but there is always the risk of trying too hard to be brave and  show the world that you’ve got things all worked out. Sometimes it is OK to admit that you’re scared, feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed… Sometimes our courage deserts us and so we need others to understand, and to be open to offers of help.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Husband, together since I was 20. And, of course, our three kids. Can I add my cats, too?

When and where were you happiest?
I would have to say now, right where my life is. I like where I am and who I am, which wasn’t always the case.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I think I’d love to be able to draw well–that would be a great talent.  I used to draw a lot as a child and while I’m not a horrible artist, it’s not my forte.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising three great kids and building and maintaining a thriving career (virtually single handed much of the time) in Japan. I’m still sane!

What is your most treasured possession?
Maybe it’s cheating, but I’ll say my scrapbook collection. Scrapbooking is my hobby, and I get a lot of pride and enjoyment out of it. I do it the old-fashioned way, by hand, not digitally. It helps me balance all the hours I spend in front of my laptop.

What do you most value in your friends?
The ability to make me laugh. I need people like that in my life!

Which book do you think is a must-read for women?
One I just read, ‘Bad Feminist’ by Roxane Gay. Highly personal yet it speaks volumes.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Three writers I’ve loved since childhood: C S Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Beverly Cleary. I also admire Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep.

What is your motto?
“Each day is a gift.” And I believe that.

What does FEW mean to you?
A valuable opportunity for a great group of women to share wisdom, information and laughter. (I imagine there is a lot of laughter at FEW meetings and I like that idea!)

When have you have felt most empowered?
When I see one of my articles in print, read it through again and think ‘Yes, I nailed it!’

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