1993 graduate Clare Keneko first visited Japan as an exchange student in 1994, falling in love with it so much that she decided to move there!

“I have no question that my education at Kolbe helped me attain one of the converted spots as only one in ten were accepted the year I went away!”

Clare said although she wasn’t an academic student, the teachers at the College always gave her the support she needed to improve her grades.

“The caring atmosphere between students and teachers is something I found unique.”

It is because of this, that Clare has decided to send her daughter from Japan to come study at Kolbe Catholic College this year.

After graduating from Kolbe and spending a year in Japan, Clare studied at a private hospitality school and gained entry into university from this.

She said her initial career goal was to be a music teacher but this quickly changed to work somewhere with an international company.

“I studied a business degree at Edith Cowan University and graduated with a double major in international business and information systems.

“I had also just been accepted to the Japan Education Teaching program as an assistant English teacher, starting a month after my last day of university.”

Living with different host families made the big move to Japan a lot easier for Clare.

“I already knew that they sold toilet seat adapters so I could sit rather than squat, however my Japanese┬áreading ability was never too great, so my initial buying at the supermarket was more of deciphering pictures on cleaning products than reading anything!”

She said that Japan is very similar to back home in the sense that Japanese people are always willing to help out and she is very blessed to be living in a community where people help each other.

“When my husband and I needed help in the middle of the night, our neighbours came to the rescue.”

Clare said that while at Kolbe, her mother was always involved in the school and so she decided to follow in her footsteps and volunteer to be president of the PTA.

“Kolbe encouraged students to be involved to make a difference, and that has stayed with me.

“I started off not knowing anything about how to teach English to Japanese students, but over the years I perfected my own style of teaching.”

She said her focus when teaching her students is more on their communication and structure, rather than their mistakes.

“While happy to stay teaching elementary students, I was invited to teach at university which was another challenge but great personal motivation.

“After six months teaching I started my Master of Arts majoring in TEFL/ TES and I successfully completed my studies in March this year.

“I learnt that I could achieve something even in my forties!”