I have been in Palau from October 2016 and my contract will finish on October 2018.

I am working as a JICA volunteer at Koror State Gym, known as Sureor Fitness Gym in Meyuns. My purpose as a JICA volunteer is to help improve the healthy lifestyle of the Palauan people and train my co-workers by passing on what I learned to them. I cannot say all the activities that I worked on went successful, but I can say that I did all my best. My experience in Palau is definitely going to be my treasure in life. I would like to thank everyone whom I met.

When I started working, I was surprised to see people having BIG bodies everywhere. In addition, everyone ate lots, talked lots, slept lots and again, ate lots. Our customers were also big (my co-workers are big too) and most of them had common concerns on diets and losing their weights. Especially, women came to the gym for exercise, thinking about their body line more than men. However, until I came, there was no female trainer at the gym, so it was not always easy for female customers to enquire about their training to male staffs. Therefore, after I started working, female customers would often say “I can now come and enjoy training with you, because you are here.” When I was facing difficult times or was sad and suffering, these heartfelt words by customers always helped me out. I felt the warmness of Palauan people. Thank you so much.

Exercise is very difficult to continue, so people often end up quitting before they can see their actual outcomes. So to those who came to the gym and continued their exercise with patience, I hope I was able to share the pleasure of exercise, its achievement and the refreshment to both mind and body that exercise can bring, at least to some of you. If you are one of the people saying “From next Monday, next month or after coming back from my holidays… I shall start exercise”, you should start from today, first by walking 10 minutes a day and tomorrow for 15 minutes.

Teaching training knowledge to my co-workers and customers were difficult. One can teach others, only after one learns, get knowledge and gain some experience in teaching. Even in Japan, those who work at the fitness gym are the ones whom have studied special studies for training. Accordingly, it was hard to teach my co-workers, who have never experienced nor studied training before. Although the result of sharing my training knowledge to my co-workers were not completely successful, I do hope I was able to teach my clients how to train, how to enjoy and how to change both their body and mind through exercise.

I feel that people living in Palau are focusing more on healthier life than before. The numbers of gym customers, especially women, are increasing. Nowadays, I often see many people running or walking in town. This trend is good in improving the life-style disease. Nevertheless, the obesity rate in Palau is still high among the countries around the world. Therefore, I hope people in Palau will continue to exercise, realize a country with healthy and long living people, as well as keeping the beautiful ocean and sky for the future generation.

To conclude, I was able to enjoy my life in Palau, without any big accidents and injuries, thanks to all the people who have supported me in many ways. Especially, I would like to thank my host family for taking care of me like a part of their family every day; Koror government for supporting me in doing everything what I wanted to challenge; and finally to my best co-workers who have been so kind to me always for the 2 years. Thank you all for everything, which made me really happy and smile every time. I like Palau so much and I look forward to seeing you all again.

– Mayumi Sone, JICA Volunteer


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