Six years on scholarship in Japan, Guyanese student realises dream as researcher
By Kurt Campbell
After six years on scholarship in Japan, a Guyanese student who is on the verge of completing his doctorate in Regional and Global Resource Economics is pushing for more publicity of the opportunities available for Guyanese in Japan but it comes with a plea for his countrymen and women to be “open-minded.”
MEXT Scholar Raulston Gillette, who once worked at the Aquaculture Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture in Georgetown, will graduate in March 2023 and has already secured a previous master’s degree in Agriculture Science and Natural Resources, both through scholarships he secured with the Japanese government.
He hopes to return home and fulfil his dream as a Researcher though he has concerns about funding and compensation. Already Gillette has conducted research on contract farming in Guyana’s rice industry.
Notwithstanding, Gillette is keen to ensure that other Guyanese benefit from the fulfilling experiences he has had in Kagoshima, Japan.
Japan has long offered scholarships to international students from across the Caribbean who wish to study at Japanese universities but Gillette fears Guyanese are largely unaware of the opportunities.
“Maybe because the Embassy is in Trinidad and not much promotion is done in the country itself. I believe more promotion needs to be done to make Guyanese more aware,” he related in a recent interview with the News Room’s Kurt Campbell who participated in a recent invitation programme called “Building a multi-layered network of Japan experts”.
Gillette is thoroughly satisfied with his schooling in Japan and believes promoting the opportunities can also be aided by opportunities to learn the language in Guyana, partnerships between the University of Guyana and universities in Japan and even an extension of current programmes such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme to Guyanese.
“So Guyanese aren’t so afraid. It would be easier for people to transition and visit the country,” he posited.
Passionate about research in the agriculture field, Gillette said he intends to return to Guyana after completing his studies “as long as there is an opportunity” here for him.
He said securing the scholarship required him to not be laid back and it required work future prospects must be prepared to put in.
Gillette first visited Japan for a 3-month training programme on fisheries community development but during that time he developed an admiration for the education system there.
He returned to Guyana and started to search for opportunities to return to Japan and in 2016 he applied for the scholarship which was published on the embassy’s website.
After a competitive process that saw him being self-taught the Japanese language prior to an in-person interview in Trinidad, Gillette was selected with one other person from the Caribbean for the scholarship.
He says transitioning and living in Japan has not been difficult.
The courses at the postgraduate levels are taught in English and Gillette is one of just about 12 Guyanese living, working and studying in Japan.
He believes the Guyanese community can easily be larger there.
“I would encourage persons to be open-minded. There are a lot of things here that Guyanese people are not used to, like the food, but Japan is a welcoming place,” Gillette said.
He said he was offered tremendous help as an international student.
“At the university things are different. You get a lot of help. They don’t leave you to swim on your own. Many things are provided. The facilities are there and the professors are helpful,” he noted.