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Life goals lead Japanese retired man to study at ONU

Despite the expected plan to work hard and then retire to appreciate the little things in life, Jiro Kondo, a 65-year-old native from Japan, has taken some of his time of retirement to travel to the United States to pursue another college degree, enhance his English, and reach life changing goals.

Jiro, who has lived his entire life in Japan, is a participant at Ohio Northern University’s branch of Sakae Institute of Study Abroad (SISA). The Sakae program is a program dedicated to help incoming international high school, undergraduate, and graduate students strengthen their English by immersing them into the college lifestyle and introducing the American culture. These students grow by living on campus and using the school’s resource as if they were at an American university.  

For most of these students, it is the first time that they have stepped foot in the U.S. The age line is usually diverse, having students from ages 15-30, but this year the range reaches new a height at ONU with two students who have lived past 60 years.

Like most students, Jiro had little money during his first round of college. He worked every day at an hourly paying job to meet his financial needs.  He ended up graduating from his college but he wasn’t satisfied with what he learned.

 “I couldn’t study well or enough during my first university life because I had to earn my tuition,” he said. “I want to study and learn everything before my death. I promised myself.”

Jiro graduated from his university after studying law for multiple years. Back then, law seemed to be the best and only career path for him. Even though his heart was torn between literature and law, he chose his major logically based on his financial situation.

After graduating, he worked for about six universities in Japan, serving in the department of control and management of organizations. He was able to establish Japanese opera houses, national museums, and traditional Japanese theater, as well as helping preserve local traditional festivals. After years of dedication to his job, Jiro retired three years ago and planned to return to his study soon after.

Out of all the countries the in world, Jiro chose to study in the United States because he feels American universities teach liberal arts well. As he chose colleges, it was important for this man to find a college where he could find a great education in the English department.

“They (American colleges) are the best choice for me,” he said. “I always wanted to go and study a lot at an American university and now I’m here and it’s fantastic.”

Jiro will be attending ONU this fall as a freshmen majoring in creative writing. Creative writing will help him meet two goals that are priorities on his bucket list, benefitting both himself and the world.  During his youth, Jiro explained that he fell in love with a wonderful woman but, due to financial difficulties and logic, he could not marry her.  

“I lost her and I want to know the reason,” he said. “I want to know if it was my fault, hers, or society’s and why it happened.”

He plans to take all he will learn in his classes and explore all aspects of this relationship. As his second goal, Jiro wants to share with the world his journey to find the answers to his questions to prevent others the heart break that he has felt.

“I maybe be 65-years-old on the outside, but my heart is still young.” he said as he concluded. “I want everyone to be able to read my mistakes and failures.  I want to do this from the bottom of my heart.”