Annabel is a Jamaican Architecture School graduate who decided to do a master’s degree and gain her licensure in Japan. I found her on YouTube under an episode of the ‘Melanated Files’ a show that uncovers The Black Experience around the world and this time in Japan. Given my training as a graduate architect, I was fascinated by her story and openness to travel afar for her next level of development in the field of architecture. With connections from former classmates, Jamaican educational system of critical thinking, and her boldness to travel and teach English gave her a head start to fulfill her dreams. Her adventures began with being in a Tokyo city and learning to prefer the countryside to adapt to the language and culture. Her independence was quickly established because of the ease of transportation. She was fortunate to have a mentor, who understood her culture and was Japanese. This landed her in a firm where she absorbed internal meetings with Japanese being spoken by the land planners, engineers, and landscaping staff. Her candid interview gives great insight into her preferences, awareness of cultural differences, perception of achieving on tests for language and architecture school entry forms, and how the culture’s behaviors impacts her confidence.
Speaking of affordability of colleges across the world, she shared that Germany was free as well as other European Schools, China and the USA were very expensive, with Japan being affordable. Her other reason for selecting Japan was that they consistently address disaster giving her early opportunity for real world experiences. She spoke of one of her projects with pride despite having to dismantle and rebuild it. In her young adult formative years her adventure brought wisdom. Her advice is that your ‘mindset is everything’, ‘create a paradise or create a hell on earth’. Marcus Garvey was her inspiration based on his extraordinary accomplishments in the USA.
One day she will take the exam, pass it and become an international licensed architect. Once her projects are finished with this accomplishment, she plans to work in Africa on the west coast in Ghana and on the east coast which includes Kenya. After her experience in African countries, she wants to return home to Jamaica bringing her skills, knowledge, and talent to improve Kinston. The field of Architecture, in the United States, statistics have African American Women at less than 1/10 of one per cent. While it is an uphill battle here, it is great to know that the Global Afro Woman is moving around the world to develop her talents without barriers. It’s the mindset! Right?
Article and Drawing by Lillian L. Thompson – Website https://lillianonline.us