Alumni Highlights

MARIA FERNANDA SANCHEZ
Class of 2005
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Experience from 2017 Fall Issue of SUA Founders

In his 2017 Peace Proposal to the United Nations, SUA Founder Ikeda points out three characteristics of education for global citizenship, the first of which states “to gain the experience of seeing the world through the eyes of others.” This I believe is one of the most meaningful lessons I learned through my undergraduate and graduate studies at SUA and has become a prime point in both my personal and professional life.

In 2001, I left Venezuela, my home country, to join the first entering class of SUA’s undergraduate program. Through the curricular and extracurricular activities, study abroad experience, and living on campus with friends from all over the globe, I began learning of the many ways of experiencing life. With this new awareness, I have sought to expand my way of thinking while working in four different countries with people of many different cultural backgrounds.

Immersed in SUA’s embracing environment, I discovered the importance of courage and resilience to learn from and together with others. Throughout the past decade after graduation I have continued to open the way in my career as an educator.

SUA’s emphasis on learning a foreign language had a deep impact on my life. Thanks to my parents, I studied English as a second language in Venezuela. Studying Japanese as a third language at SUA, I began to envision a future beyond the geographical boundaries. The desire to work at the Soka Schools in Japan and learn from their humanistic approach to education grew stronger. With this desire, I applied to SUA’s MA in TESOL program, focusing on language education.

After completing my MA, I moved to Japan to teach English at Tokyo Soka High School for six years. Living within a completely different culture highlights elements we often take for granted when we are in our own comfort zone. The courage to step out of that comfort zone is well embedded in SUA’s encompassing curriculum.

At the beginning of 2017, I moved to Sao Paulo to take on a new professional challenge as the English Department Coordinator of Colegio Soka do Brasil. The school is in the process of acquiring an International Baccalaureate (IB) accreditation for their newly opened high school. To that end, I am working with a team of administrators and teachers leading the way in fostering an international learning environment. The experiences as a Soka student and teacher equipped me to navigate into these professional opportunities in different cultural environments. I gained the courage and resilience necessary to develop professionally at a world scale.

My greatest joy in life is to be part of the network of lifelong friendships with fellow Soka graduates around the world who are a source of continual inspiration. The different experiences and friendships I made at SUA have become the core of my life.