On October 2016, I arrived in Palau for the first time with expectation and anxiety for the upcoming future. I arrived at the airport in the evening, so the next day, when I first saw the Palauan ocean, I thought it was “very beautiful.” The first impression of Palau was very clean without any strewn garbage. Since then, I have been facing Palauan school meals for two years.
When I first went to the Ministry of Education (MOE) after the JICA training, I did not know what to do and I was just busy going through what was there. Yet by doing so, I was able to divide my tasks into four groups; 1. hygiene; 2.nutrition; 3.cooking instruction; and 4.dietary education for children.
Regarding hygiene, I checked whether cooking room of each school was hygienically used, and for nutrition, I prepared monthly school menus and increased the amount of locally produced vegetables used in it. Regarding cooking guidance, I conducted 5 workshops, instructed school cooks how to wash vegetables, how to cut them, how to make new menus, etc. Through dietary education for children, I taught students by using powerpoints and easy words that well balanced meals have to be eaten from the three food groups. I also explained the importance of making a life rhythm by eating three meals regularly a day. My biggest problem faced here was my English ability. However, everyone around me was very kind to me.
Unlike Japan’s hectic life, I feel time passes slowly here in Palau. I thought it was perfect for my easygoing character. Not like in Japan where I worked over hours, but here in Palau I could finish work on time, so I went shopping, made my own dish using local products, and at the end of day I enjoyed dinner saying “Tukarenao-su.” No matter where I went, I felt Palauan people’s warmth, and thus I always enjoyed going out for shopping.
When I walked along the streets, I often heard a loud voice saying “Hi! MAYUMI ~!” suddenly from a car passing by. I was surprised at the unexpected greetings, but returned by saying “HELLO ~~!” with a smile. It always made me happy that people approached me in a casual way, and I felt happiness for being here at this very moment.
While I doubt as to how much things I have achieved, or I am achieving, keeping “little by little” as a slogan, I expect Palau to move forward as ever before. I will be cheering and looking forward to that from Saga Prefecture in Japan. Thank you to MOE staffs, school cooks and everyone in Palau. See you again.
JICA Senior Volunteer
2016 Secondary Corps
Nutritionist Mayumi Shimazu