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Series JAPANESE ABROAD E From Adversity to Leadership Minami Tsubouchi offers support to disaster survivors LUCA MAJERO 26 | highlighting japan 1 DUCATION can lay the foundation for a lifetime. It can raise people from poverty and protect them from disease, increase choice and opportunity in employment, and empower people to influence the society in which they live. Minami Tsubouchi is Executive Director of the Global Fund for Education Assistance, a nonprofit foundation she established in June 2011. The foundation aims to support the higher education and leadership development of young people in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Tsubouchi has never been one to take the easy path. “Even as a child,” she says, “I would go shopping to the farthest grocery on the street or take the train to the station next to my own, just to see what was there. I was curious, and little by little I expanded my perspective. So in junior high I spent two years abroad.” Moving to Canada to study abroad at the age of 14, the experience was not as easy as Tsubouchi had anticipated. “Before leaving, I thought people would be waiting for me with flowers, everyone would be interested in the fact that I was Japanese and I would quickly find fame and fortune. Then reality struck. I couldn’t make friends, I couldn’t speak English, and I missed my family.” Even so, she never thought about going home, and she never