Tuesday, January 31, 2006

TRIBUTE TO PROFESSOR MITSURU WAKABAYASHI

I was then a struggling PhD student...

Doing shadow boxing in a pitch-dark room with not a ray of light coming in...

The road was long, and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel...

My story was probably not unique to foreign students doing their PhD program in the area of social science in Japan...

'Unlucky' foreign students suddenly find themselves stuck in a position whereby their supervisor-professors don't speak English...

Or worse, they find out that their supervisor-professors are not really qualified to supervise them in their field of interest...

Stuck because... it was very difficult to 'change' supervisors in Japanese universities...

Perhaps because of the 'lost of face' for the professor whom the student rejects for another?

It was like... I was in a game center...

I popped in a 100-yen coin...

Played the game... which was to last three minutes (years)...

Come 'game-over', I am out of there...

Penniless and without anything to my name...

And just before end-game, appeared Professor Mitsuru Wakabayashi...

He was not only fluent in English but he was an effective communicator... learned... warm... kind... humble... and respectful even of a struggling younger 'researcher' like me...

He helped me with the questionnaire survey, writing request letters that referred to me as his 'colleague'...

I was but a mere struggling PhD candidate, no doubt working as a Research Associate for someone else then...

No doubt he was but my 'shadow-supervisor'...

But there are qualms whatsoever that if there was one mentor in my life, it is Professor Wakabayashi...

His area of work almost encompassed mine... he got me rolling with my PhD thesis... and introduced me to international conferences...

In short, he 'saved' my life...

Professor Mitsuru Wakabayashi...

On that fateful tenth January day of 2006, my heart wept...

I salute you... Sir...

And... may God be with you...