Some tragedies lead to success and eventually happiness.
It was 1868 when Japan began the journey of the Meiji period due to which it started becoming more civilized and contemporary than before. It then had a much stronger link with the outside world. This had a huge impact on essential factors like education, economy, foreign relations and, of course, the country’s social structure. A positive impact, of course.
Throughout this time, expeditions like the Iwakura mission became possible. This mission not only dealt with the diplomatic affairs worldwide but its aim was also to build an educational system like the United States and Europe which encouraged Japanese women to come out and get college degrees.
That’s when the inspirational story of Sutematsu Yamakawa began.
Sutematsu was the first ever Japanese woman to gain a college degree.
Sutematsu was born in 1860 and was only 12-years-old when she was sent to the United States with four other young girls on the Iwakura mission. Although at such an early age, it’s obvious she was sent against her will. Her brother signed her up and forced her to leave, to be left with fewer mouths to feed.
Read the story further.
What a painful death…
That’s when it happened.
As most of the Japanese people, Sutematsu had never left her country and knew not a word of English or any other language for that matter. She was given a new name too by her mother.
From Sakiko to Sutematsu.
Naturally, the five girls were petrified and tried to stay together but eventually were separated and sent to different foster homes.
In spite of the hard times she faced, Sutematsu persevered and did excellent academically. She was the only girl in her class who went to college. At that time, Sutematsu became the most educated woman.
Almost a decade had passed when she returned to her country, determined to make better of her native land.
She joined with two other girls who had been sent abroad and set out a goal. The goal was to open a school for girls.
To achieve her target, Sutematsu had to sacrifice a part of herself and marry a man whom she did not love.
But in the end, it was all worth it as she got to open the school of her dreams and help young girls to get educated and stand on their own feet.
That’s when the crucial times began again.
Sutematsu was a woman who sacrificed a lot for not just herself but her country and all the other Japanese women. And it all paid off. Sutematsu is a name which shall be remembered forever.
Do you feel inspired? Read about more women like Sutematsu here.
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