This month I am thrilled to be chatting with an incredibly inspiring expat: Rosette Obedoza.
When I heard about Rosette Obedoza’s business for the first time I was skeptical that it could really be as she said it was. Rosette is the director of a private preschool in Okinawa, Japan. Not only that, she is the owner, having established it herself just a couple of years ago – with just three registered students, one her own daughter.
None of this will seem incredible to you, if you live outside Japan, but for those foreign nationals who do live here – then you’ll know how difficult a task this must have been. The elephant in the room, it’s Okinawa, home to more than 8 US military bases, so that makes it easier? Tons of Americans everywhere? The preschool is on-base? No, yes and no are the answers to those questions. Being located in Okinawa has not made it easier, I’ll explain why in a moment. Yes there are tons of Americans everywhere, so they do make up a large percentage of the roll, a slight advantage. And no, the preschool is not on base.
Wow, we need to get to the bottom of this story. I’m getting those butterflies in my stomach as I begin to appreciate the magnitude of Rosette’s accomplishment.
Not one to take no for an answer
Let’s back up a bit. Rosette is a military wife with her husband on active duty in the Asia Pacific area. Rosette herself was a civilian employee working for the military for many years as well – that is until a policy change which led her to resign from her job. Having worked for a time in a co-op preschool in another military base in mainland Japan 10 years ago and with a graduate degree in Education, she dreamt of one day perhaps opening a preschool.
Nobody thought it was possible but Rosette dug her heels in, got business advice from a compassionate entrepreneur in Tokyo, convinced her husband to give up most of their savings and secured a personal loan.
It took a whole lot of faith to go against the grain – why not look for another job at one of the on-base child developments centers, said her old boss. Rosette just smiled and carried on building her dream. It felt like everyone was waiting for her to fail. This just drove her even harder.