Adult Group - Fine Work (Japan)
“The way of my aim”
Okinawa City
Shoko Uechi (22 years old, female)

With the word “Don’t give up” to my heart, I have kept trying various things always in a positive frame of mind. I know that I have been supported by so many people including my family, friends, and the people around me, and with their support, to date, I have been able to struggle to achieve the goal set each time with no compromise made. I made my dream of attending a general senior high school come true.The dream which I harbored since I was in a elementary school. In March this year, I was able to graduate from a university. Now, when I became a member of society, however, I bumped into a big wall of “Job Hunting.”
I lost my eyesight due to disease when I was about 1 year old. My mother told me that I was a tomboy who loved to run around outside but after the surgery, felt abandoned, threw away my favorite stuffed toy and cried so much. Under such circumstances, it was favorite music that always made me bright. At all times, songs were my emotional support.
The interactive educational program in community was started when I was in the upper grades of elementary school, and this served as the impetus for me to harbor the dream to study at a regular senior high school. The interactive educational program took place only three times a year but meeting with friends who welcomed me as a member of the class brought rays of hope to me. Because the school for the blind I attended was a small school, it was my greatest joy that I got more friends through transactional education. Gradually, I strongly hoped to “study under the conditions same as those for the people having no disabilities.” And then, I desperately chose a school I want to go to and worked hard at my lessons every day to increase my academic ability. I think that I passed the examination for admission on recommendation because I had a strong will. In my dream life at the regular senior high school, at first, I was bewildered by the unaccustomed surroundings and my heart was filled with apprehension, but it did not take long time to get familiar with every one and though I was shy with people, I was able to talk to everyone light-heartedly. Classmates were always ready to help me if I was in trouble. For example, they slowly read what a teacher wrote on a blackboard for me or always guided me when I needed to move from classroom to classroom. Furthermore, volunteers took over translation of materials used for classrooms into Braille. I was able to have fulfilling three years thanks to my warm-hearted schoolmates and teachers.
After I entered the university, I gave serious thought to my future. One day, when I was taking a stroll with my friends, we began to talk about what kind of job we wanted to engage with. In giggling but slightly serious conversation, I confessed my dream thoroughly, which I was too embarrassed to say to anyone before and was about ready to give up. “I want to be a singer who could give courage and sensations to many people.” My friends encouraged me not to hesitate to follow my dream, saying “We always support you and keep our fingers crossed for you.” Being encouraged by these words, I had auditions so many times but failed all. I entered myself in several private companies, but was rejected because I am “all blind.” Even companies with “Handicapped Persons’ Employment” stipulated in job-opening information declined my job application, saying “We are awfully sorry but we do not accept people with visual impairment.” I was refused even chances of interviews. I frequently shed tears of frustration and disappointment while my classmates made their career decisions one after another. I learnt the current situation in which the system to accept people with visual impairment had not yet been established, though bylaws to eliminate discrimination to handicapped people were established. I was shocked to realize that there are people who firmly believe that people with visual impairment consistently need support of surrounding people to live. We must communicate to people or rather let them know that “there are so many things we can do even if we cannot see.
Through the job-hunting process, I felt quite frustrated but it was also a chance for me to commit myself to take another run to make my dream reality, the dream which I have pictured in my mind. I won the first prize in the Korean Speech Contest held at our university with a song that I wrote myself incorporated. After the speech, I was so happy to have delightful words “I was really touched. Thank you so much for the courage,” and I regained my confidence.
I stray into a labyrinthine world.
Obstacles block my path many times.
Once in a while, I am about to lose sight of my future.
If I give up, I merely go back to where I started.
Bitter tears help bloom courage flowers.
Don’t rush. One step at a time.
Believe in myself.
Let’s set off on foot with a piece of my dream in my hand.
With the help of a future map
Let’s spin out the possibilities I have in myself.
Now I attend a voice training class. I go to live bars to allow me to sing. I am planning to cooperate with my friends and give street performances shortly. Someday, I hope to return courtesies to all the people who have supported me in so many ways through my musical activities. I would like to make an appeal to many people that even a person with visual impairment has capabilities as much as a person having no disabilities and to help in any way solve disabled persons’ employment problems. I will continue to stay positive as before and charge head first towards my dream. I admit that there would be difficulties ahead. At times, I might lose my confidence and I might feel I’m going to be in despair. I will never give up my dream if there is even one person who would cheer me up and support me.

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