Through her current studies in International Security and Conflict Resolution at San Diego State University and Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Hosei University, Anna Kajino has taken a hard look at modern history and analyzed governing principles and economic development, concluding that the world needs a massive paradigm shift. Anna wants to be a part of it. She carries a burdensome regret for the conflict between Japan and China to the point of feeling a cultural responsibility for past actions.
When she met a Chinese exchange student, she was nervous about talking to her. “I apologized to this new friend who was very surprised,” Anna says. The Japanese Government has never apologized for WWII. The friend reacted very positively, and Anna felt a powerful sense of gratification. “I can be the change!” she says.
To this end, she intends to develop her multicultural perspective and become involved in diplomatic mediation, specializing in the field of conflict resolution and international development. Anna finds the current institutional developmental order that many international organizations advocate to be ineffective and counterproductive. “Their efforts in eradicating poverty and inequality often backfire,” she believes “because local cultures and norms that are deeply engrained are frequently ignored, exacerbating inequalities that already exists.” Countries that receive financial “aid” in the form of loans simply accumulate debt, and socioeconomic disparities between the rich and the poor intensify.
When conflict erupts, international intervention generally involves a quick fix even though the problem may be the culmination of deep-seated ethnic hatred that has taken root over time. “An international community might be able to stop the ongoing massacre and call it a success, but it often fails to bring the opposing parties to genuine reconciliation.”
Anna stresses that successful conflict resolution must root out underlying causes of armed conflict through understanding the history, culture, and political situations involved. “I believe it is essential to develop mutual understanding and trust between different cultures and countries,” she says, in order to overcome obstacles blocking reconciliation and peace and to foster the expansion of global cooperation. She cites the all too common us against the enemy mentality as a major impediment to negotiation. Resorting to armed conflict doesn’t solve the problem, and, instead, “unleashes violent spirits that overpower hope and the desire for peace and harmony.”
During her studies at Hosei University, her professor assigned her the role of leader for a conflict studies’ seminar where she served as a liaison between the professor and the students, facilitated class discussions, and organized class materials. Initially, the professor and the students offered proposals that were out of sync with one another. Anna led discussions where the group agreed to do critical analyses of selected essays on peace with each student interpreting a specified chapter and relating it to an appropriate global issue. She also held successful meetings at restaurants of different cultural cuisines. The experience taught her the importance of optimism, processing information quickly, empathy, respect, patience, versatility, and commitment.
“Leadership is not a prerogative conferred upon you,” Anna says. “It is not a binding obligation to be carried out in concordance with your own beliefs. Leadership is a rope that connects a community, blending individual voices into a harmonized voice in unison.”
She wants to become a mediator who facilitates reconciliation in war-torn regions, but because “impending global issues are in a dire need of creative approaches,” Anna’s grandest dream is to “invent a new alternative development model that reinforces countries’ self-sufficiency, replacing the linear development model that subjects underdeveloped countries to the more pernicious effects of global capitalism.”