How it all started: Creation of Katariba

Katariba was founded fourteen years ago in 2001. Co-founders Kumi Imamura and Yuka Mikayama who were in college, started a humble challenge to change the society.

“College is boring…”

“College is boring.” “There is nothing exciting” “I am bored every day.” When Imamura returned to her hometown for the coming of age ceremony (seijin-shiki), Imamura was shocked to hear these words from her high school classmates whom she met at the reunion. Imamura, who group up in a small town in Hida-takayama in Gifu Prefecture until high school, was “an ordinary child and did not particularly stand out.” When Imamura visited Keio University (in Tokyo) on a campus tour during the summer break of her sophomore year in high school, she met many college students whom she could see as role models. “I want to be a college student like them!” Such strong motivation changed Imamura’s vision for her future. In order to make her vision into reality, she tackled the admission process and successfully entered Keio University.

Creation of Katariba in 2001

“How did my high school classmates and I become so different?” Imamura put much thought into the question and came to realize that even if you have similar social background, ideas and vision for the future can be influenced by the educational opportunity or family background even if you have similar social background. The vision for the future will change depending on what kind of goal or role model you have. Imamura started to think about how to solve the gap caused by opportunities and environment that vary from one student to another. One of her answers was to create “Katariba,” a tailored class for career education offered to high-school students.

Starting career education for high-school students

Katariba is a career education program designed to enhance motivation for high-school students. Volunteer staffs who are college students and young professionals engage in active listening from high-school students on what they are interested and concerned about especially for their future. The volunteer staffs, who are slightly older than students and accessible, will share their own personal stories on what they are passionate about at college or what kind of mistakes they made during high-school days.

Almost all high-school students do not have sufficient opportunity to think deeply about themselves of to access the real world. Even though many of them want to do something to change the status quo, they are worried about how others would view them, thus feeling hesitant to take the first step. Almost all students, 98% of them enroll high-school. If they have an opportunity to talk to someone who are a little more experienced about their concern for the future, and to listen to their stories about college life and career, many of those students will become more active in thinking about their future. They would only need a gentle push in the back to step forward. Such a vision created Katariba.