Irianna from Greece (GEP Kanto)

Irianna quickly became one of the core members of GEP Kanto when she join us in 2014, recommended by one of our first Facilitators, Thom from Malawi. She did 29 programs, and got the chance to participate in programs also in Hiroshima and Hokkaido.

She will always be remembered as the leader who made a teacher walk the “runway” almost naked during our first Global Fashion Show in Kanto (dressed as an Ancient Greek using a bed sheet!)

She left Japan after graduating in 2016, but she missed us so much that she came to visit us a year later. We are always waiting for her job to relocate her in Japan, so we can have her back!

What did you take with you from your experience as GEP? Were you able to apply that after graduating?

Apart from the memories, which I will cherish forever, the professional experience I gained was an amazing addition to my CV - programme management experience and leadership skills at their best!

 

What would you have liked to know before your first program?

I think I would have liked the participants’ expectations and preferences. Having a better understanding of how to approach the programmes would have made the experience that I was able to offer to the participants much better from the start (you’ll all get there fast, as did I, but still it would have been nice to know their average preferences).

What advice would you give to our current members?

Join with an open mind. The participants will surprise you in so many different ways, it’s crazy. Another thing that worked for me was abandoning the idea of teaching. It was much more fun for them (and me) to present myself as someone like them, someone who enjoys similar things like them, is open to discuss anything they want and do random things with them (low-key senpai?). The fact that I didn’t mind leading (extremely embarrassing) activities like the “chuchuwa” helped as well! (I was sooo nice, I don’t understand why I got the “kowai leader” title…)

What was your favorite part of GEP?

I loooooooved the “Greetings Around the World” (guess what… kisses!). No programme was more lovely than the Asakusa ones though.

How has living Japan impacted your current life?

Living in Japan completely transformed my way of thinking. I think that I have become more open-minded and more aware of those behaviours of mine that are dictated by my culture; it is much easier for me now to handle situations affected by cultural differences. From a professional point of view, Japan put me in a very international life path and gave a great push to my career.

 

How is “adulthood”? What has changed in your life since you graduated GEP?

I have become a productive member of society (100% shakaijin!). Or pretend to be. In reality I’m just winging it, trying unsuccessfully to figure out how adulthood works.

What are you doing now? Are you living in your origin country or you moved somewhere else?

I am working for an international organisation on the topic of expanding access to space technologies globally.

I have been moving from country to country and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future at least. Currently, I live in Austria (no, we don’t have kangaroos here).

 

Do you plan to ever come back to Japan?

I would love to! My organisation has offices in Japan, so who knows? Fingers crossed!

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