Ikunori Suzuki

“I have been here in Bhutan for almost two years now. Before I came to Bhutan, I worked in Guatemala. When I came to Bhutan, I was worried about a lot of things, like communicating with my colleagues and getting necessary things for my meals. After reaching here, I soon found comfort in the similarities between Bhutan and Japan and the warmth of the Bhutanese people.

I am a systems engineer, and I work as a volunteer for the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). I develop and enhance RCSC systems and also teach my developing skills to my colleagues. It was tough to grasp how the systems functioned, and communication with my colleagues was difficult due to language barriers. It’s amazing to see Bhutanese speaking Japanese here, which makes me really happy. Maybe it’s because many Bhutanese go to Japan for studies.

During my time here, I created the ‘Zhiyog Recruitment System,’ a job portal used by numerous agencies. The ICT systems here are weak, and I wanted to improve them, but it was the lockdown period at that time, and since my English is not very good, I couldn’t communicate well with my colleagues. So I had to do everything myself. Even at home; to go out and buy necessary items, I had no idea where to go and also how I could get the card to go outside.

Before I complete my assignment term, I want to teach or leave all my skills and knowledge to my colleagues. Usually, Japanese people are very strict while working, but in Bhutan, it is not very strict in a good way, which eases our minds with not much pressure and work independently.

During my weekends, I go shopping and walk around the city since I am sitting on a chair for a long time. Sometimes I go hiking as well. Before I leave for Japan, I want to explore all the famous places in Bhutan. I recently visited Punakha Dzong with one of my colleagues, and this is my happiest moment for now. I even plan to come back here in the future.

As a child, I used to spend my time playing sports like softball, soccer, snowboard and during my school days, I wanted to become a photographer. I don’t regret that I couldn’t become a photographer because I think being an IT engineer is a great profession as well.
Even after my retirement, I want to continue my profession as a hobby but I have not decided if I will continue to work after this assignment. Even if I am far from home, I don’t miss my family much since I can call them anytime easily.

There are about eight different systems in RCSC, and I guide my colleagues not only technically but also on how they can be developed and enhanced in the future. With my colleagues, we are able to provide technical solutions much faster and more efficiently.

My colleagues taught me how to wear the national dress (Gho) during my first week, and I have been wearing it since then. It is comfortable, and I plan to take it back to Japan as well. I advise all the Japanese or any foreigners who visit Bhutan to buy the national dress and try it at least once.

While I was walking back home by the road near Tashichho Dzong, I encountered His Majesty, and I was very nervous. His Majesty asked me something in Dzongkha, and since I couldn’t understand the language, I just bowed and stayed silent. Maybe it’s because I was wearing a Gho. When our late prime minister passed away, His Majesty offered butter lamps for him, and all the Japanese were also invited, which made me feel very special. This is also an indication how kind and great Bhutanese are.”

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