Asia Feature

A New Perspective On Life

October 14, 2014

Shigehiro with his former homestay guest
What would you do with a solid month—or more—of paid vacation? You might do something wild like climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or dive with sharks in Cape Town. Or, if you’re like Shigehiro H., manager of digital media sales with Adobe Tokyo, you’ll pack your precious sabbatical time with personal meaning—and return with a new perspective on life. Here’s what he did on his sabbatical.

About six years ago, Shigehiro’s family started participating in an international homestay program. Each year, he welcomes into his home a visitor from another country, giving his guest a chance to experience daily life and culture in Japan. Each time one of Shigehiro’s homestay guests leaves, he says the same thing: “Next time, I’ll visit you.”

So when he earned a sabbatical at Adobe, he decided to make good on that promise. Shigehiro set out on a multi-country trip to visit a combination of friends and former guests and to learn about the local cultures.

Exploring different places, all in different economic stages of development and with different lifestyles, gave me great insight and made me think about things I might not be thinking about day to day.

He started his trip in Myanmar, where he visited a former homestay guest and saw some of the progress made at a local school that he and his friends have helped to support since 2002. He hiked the mountains near Lake Inle and saw local agriculture in action, including the lake’s floating gardens of fruits and vegetables. Then he reunited with friends in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Singapore, getting a local’s experience of the best restaurants and of family cooking at home.

“When you experience the differences in daily life—foods, customs, and anything related to lifestyle—you start to question everything that those things mean,” Shigehiro says. “By going through those questions and conversations, you gain a greater appreciation for all different cultures.”

After a quick stop at Adobe Singapore to say hello to his colleagues, Shigehiro headed back to Tokyo refreshed.

“I am thankful for the company for giving me an opportunity to make a small dream come true.”