Article #4 Katsunori Baba (still working on the title)

Imagine yourself on the other side of the world. In this place people speak a different language; and they expect you to speak it too. Their costumes would never be acceptable in your society; and every second in the street is just an endless confusion where you think… is this ok?  Every time you look up into the horizon the landscape offers a complete different palate of colors and expressions of the beauty in the world. And finally every time you eat there’s not even a single dish that will bring you a memory from your mom’s home made food.


This is the life of an international student here in the U.S. As soon as they set a foot in here their life is never the same. So, how can anyone feel like they belong in such a different place?

Some might say it’s education, others give credit to their own goals and the drive to achieve them. And for others just like Katsunori Baba a student from Fukuoka-shi Hakataku (Japan); it’s a complete different thing.


Katsunori is a student majoring in Vocal Performance and theatre, he is currently in his second semester at Morningside; and has great dreams that he wishes to complete (every single one). What keeps Katsunori so far away from home is nothing more than the good old happiness. In his life he never felt like he belonged anywhere until one day he started singing and he made people happy through his singing.


“when I realized how people reacted to my singing I found my place” he explained. But how did he get to belong so far away from home?


Katsunori was a regular student back in japan. His only motives were swimming and getting the big prizes but as he explained this was just a shallow goal. One day he realized he needed a change in his life. He said to himself “if I stay here nothing is going to happen in my future, I’ll be living a boring life with a boring job.” So he decided to study abroad. Sadly, his high school didn’t offer the level of English necessary to achieve this life changing decision. So he decided to drop out of high school and study English on his own.


He would soon realize that was a mistake. In Japan High school consists of three years. So the last year prepared him for college exams. He had a rough time studying on his own so much that after two months he thought he wouldn’t make it. Luckily, his grandfather had connections with a very prestigious school where the principal after hearing the news of Katsunori dropping out rushed to help. They allowed him to use the facilities and study certain classes that would allow him to get a high school diploma but also learn English. This was a tough year for him he spent more than 6 hours a day just studying to be able to get a high school diploma, study English and pass his entrance exam to Nagasaki University.


At the end Katsunori’s effort was rewarded and got all his objectives achieved. This meant he was able to study in on of the best universities of Japan. But as he explained “After you study for hours a day just to pass one test, everything that comes afterwards is heaven, so I let myself get carried away by the college party life… I felt like I was loosing myself, I knew I had to make a change”. This lead him to take a pause in his college career and go back t his first goal… study abroad.

Looking for a better preparation in English he left to the Philippines where he spent two months studying English. But after he got there he found more than just learning a language he learned about life. He found friendships that would impact his life forever, these friends asked him questions that would change Katsunori forever. They said “what do you want to be?” Katsunori never hadn’t thought about that in a long time soon he realized he’s been trying to find the answer to that question but he never seems to belong anywhere so he responded by looking into his deepest memories and an almost fading idea of him being an entertainer appeared. He said “I want to be an entertainer!” his friends responded “then what are you doing here get out there and start doing!” so he stood up and started singing for them. At this point he realized that belonging doesn’t have to be in a place. Belonging meant to find a way to channel who you are and give back to the people around you, that’s how you find where you belong.


So he went back to japan and for a while his life stayed the same. He got a part time job and fell into the same abyss he tried to escape from the beginning. So he took a big step and started cutting all his ties in japan. Everything that hold him from his dream of studying abroad. He wanted to experience different cultures, finding new experiences, and a new place where he belonged every day. So his mom gave him the idea of going to the U.S.  so they went on and started planning everything. On his side he left his college, said goodbye to his loved ones and to his friends. It was very challenging but the questions that the Philippines left in his head would never be fulfilled if he stayed in Japan.


After applying to multiple universities where he got accepted and offered scholarships in every single one. He chose Morningside because it was the only place where his passion could be fulfilled with a great formation in classical opera and the opportunity to do theatre on campus. And as soon as he got here he felt he belonged. Not for the food or the landscaped but because he could make people happy everyday through his passion.


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