“The world is not so far out of reach. I want people to realize and experience the global world in their region.”
Hikari Nonaka is the CEO of HelloWorld!, which he launched in 2018. He has had a career in many fields, including working with college students to support their careers and serving as a consultant for community revitalization.
Why did Nonaka launch HelloWorld! and why is he so passionate about HelloWorld Homestay Project? We asked him about his vision and vision for the future.
Q. In 2020, the world is experiencing a new Coronavirus pandemic. Some may even feel that regions and countries across oceans have become further apart, but how do we as HelloWorld! view the situation now?
I think it’s an opportunity for HelloWorld!
We’ve come to an age where you can go abroad cheaply by LCC, but it’s a long way away. But it’s precisely because I can’t go there that I understand the value of going abroad. It’s precisely because it’s now that I can feel the happiness and richness of being able to go there. I’ve come to realize that myself.
That’s why everyone knows the value of being abroad. Now that we are able to connect with other countries online, “some foreign countries are closer than ever”. And now we have a chance to connect with other countries in the region.
In retrospect, the world has never been this united. The world has never been this united as a whole to face a single challenge. This sense of unity and solidarity is something we should not forget. We should not forget about the environment of the world in the future.
Q. What was the inspiration behind launching HelloWorld! in Okinawa?
When I was in high school, I went to the U.S. as an exchange student and I had to say “I’m fine” when I was asked “Where are you from?” My English level was not good. But my friends helped me, and were very kind to me. So I enjoyed the year. I feel indebted to that experience.
When I was 20 years old, I went on a trip all over the world. I made friends in various places and they took me to many places. I didn’t spend a single penny and had the experience of traveling. From that experience, I thought, “I want to repay my debt of gratitude someday.
Four years ago, while eating at the JICA(Japan International Cooperation Agency) center’s cafeteria whick is located in Urasoe city, I was always looking forward to meeting foreigners. I ended up meeting a Kenyan man who told me that he had made a friend for the first time after being in Okinawa for three months! I was shocked!
I felt that I had been taken care of by a foreigner, but I hadn’t done anything to help them. Even if we are not able to study abroad, there are foreigners in this community which we live in. I thought it would be possible to connect the two.
At that time, foreigners living in Okinawa came from 108 countries, and I thought that I could study abroad in Okinawa without having to travel to Japan.
These experiences are connected to launching HelloWorld! service.
Q.What kind of society would you like to achieve with Hello World!?
The business conducted at HelloWorld! is a service that makes a peaceful world. The essence is the connection between people. Learning or learning a foreign language, such as wanting to be able to speak English, is not the main purpose.
I think that peace can be made if there is one friend in each country in the world. And the global is in the region. Awareness of that, and making friends of the world one by one in the area; I want to make that happen at HelloWorld!
Q.How about actually starting the service?
When I hear that my host family is enjoying it, I think it’s good.
Before I started, I was worried about the need for it. But when I first started the service, when I posted it on FB, it got over 60 shares. It was the first time in my life that I got a response to what I wanted to do, and I was happy to hear from a family who actually did the study abroad program in the city that their family was happy after doing it.
I was happy to hear the host family felt that the girl who stayed at their house was like their real daughter. I remember being impressed to learn about various cultures and to be able to make connections with foreigners in this way.
Q.How exactly will it develop in the future?
I started this service in my home town of Okinawa, but I would like to expand it beyond Okinawa. In Asia, I would like to expand to Taiwan, China, Hawaii, Israel in the Middle East… I would like to expand to the rest of the world.
Q. Do you have a message to the hosts and those who are interested in service?
If it will be normal to have one friend from each country in the world, we will be able to think about the world in everything we do. I would like to expand this value system.
The children in Japan are impressed by the food that you make. I would like foreign people living in Japan to help Japanese children learn about the diverse world. Even if people learn English, I hope that more people will learn English in a more meaningful way.
At the same time, we would like the children living in Okinawa and Japan to teach Japanese language and culture, and have casual exchanges with them.