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英語:“Fukushima evacuee fulfills dream to become school teacher in Tohoku”

A woman who fled to Kobe following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster in 2011 has achieved her dream of becoming a school teacher in the Tohoku region.

Asana Ikezoe, 35, was hired this spring by a public junior high school in Miyagi Prefecture. Ikezoe had previously worked as a volunteer for the Hyogo Prefectural Government, supporting those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, with the role being based in Kobe, she occasionally felt guilty, thinking to herself, “I’ve run away, whereas the others have stayed.”

“You should fulfill your dream and become a teacher,” said workplace friends — victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 — as they encouraged Ikezoe to return to Tohoku.

Spurred on by her friends, Ikezoe decided to become “someone who helps others,” a message she intends to deliver to future students at her new school.

At the time of the nuclear disaster in 2011, Ikezoe was working as an instructor at a junior high school in the town of Tomioka in Fukushima Prefecture. However, an evacuation order was promptly issued across the entire town, and about two weeks later, she fled to Kobe with her parents, who were living in the prefectural city of Minamisoma.

Making use of a Hyogo Prefecture employment system aimed at people affected by disasters, she began working for “Hyogo Voluntary Plaza” in May 2011, an organization that supports volunteer groups.

“There’s loads of work to do,” said Morio Takahashi invitingly, the current head of the organization and a disaster support adviser at the time.

In summer that year, Ikezoe proposed a “hometown volunteer bus” scheme, under which evacuees carry out voluntary support work in disaster-affected areas. The scheme enabled Ikezoe to be reunited with pupils at evacuation sites in Fukushima Prefecture, who were initially from the town of Tomioka. The kids instantly relaxed upon talking with her, prompting them to make comments such as, “I really want to return to Tomioka.”

At that particular point though, she had given up on becoming a teacher, due to concerns about her age and physical condition.

However, her friends in Kobe then came to the fore. They listened to her stories about the nuclear disaster and the earthquake. Her colleague, Chizuyo Nakamura, 64, whose relative’s home was completely burned as a result of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, says, “I want to do something for her (Ikezoe). I want to listen to her, although admittedly she might find this to be a painful process.”

As she talked with friends, she found herself speaking about teaching before long. “Everyone was supporting me, saying that teaching is ‘my role’ in life.”

In autumn 2016, Ikezoe moved to Miyagi Prefecture where her older sister lives, and started work as a full-time instructor at a junior high school. In autumn 2017, she sat the teacher employment test and passed. As of April 3, she is officially a teacher at a junior high school in the city of Tagajo in Miyagi Prefecture, in a region which was 30 percent flooded by the 2011 tsunami.

“There’s nothing that can be done alone. I want to keep spreading the message that we are able to live our lives thanks to mutual support with others,” Ikezoe says.

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日本語:“福島第1原発事故 支えられ、また教員に 避難先の神戸で決意”

 2011年の東京電力福島第1原発事故に伴い、神戸市に2年前まで避難していた池添麻奈さん(35)が今春、宮城県の公立中教諭に採用された。神戸では兵庫県嘱託職員として東日本大震災の被災地支援ボランティアに携わったが、「自分だけ逃げた」と悩んだこともあった。そんな時に「先生になる夢をかなえて」と励ましたのは、阪神大震災で被災した職場の友人らだった。「人を支えられる人間に」。池添さんは教壇から子供たちに伝えるつもりだ。

 池添さんは原発事故が起こった時、福島県富岡町の中学校で講師をしていた。町全域に避難指示が出され、約2週間後に同県南相馬市に住む両親と共に、親類がいる神戸に避難。兵庫県の被災者雇用制度を活用し、11年5月からボランティア団体などを支援する「ひょうごボランタリープラザ」で働き始めた。

 同プラザの高橋守雄・災害支援アドバイザー(現所長)からは「仕事は山ほどあるぞ」と発破をかけられた。

 その年の夏、避難者が被災地でボランティアをする「里帰りボランティアバス」を自ら企画。福島県内の避難所で富岡の教え子と再会した。子供たちは池添さんと話すうちに表情を緩ませ、「富岡に帰りてえ」と漏らした。当時、池添さんは年齢や体力の不安から教師の道を諦めかけていた。

 そんな池添さんに、神戸の友人たちはそっと寄り添った。一緒に食卓を囲み、池添さんが原発事故や震災の話を語れば、耳を傾けてくれた。阪神大震災で親類宅が全焼した同僚の中村千津代さん(64)は「何かしてあげたい。聞いてあげたい。でも、それが傷つけることもあるから」と話す。

 池添さんは交流の中で、いつの間にか学校の話をしている自分に気付いた。「教師が私の『足場』だと皆が背中を押してくれた」

 16年秋に姉が住む宮城県に移り、中学校の常勤講師になった。昨年秋に同県の教員採用試験に挑戦し、合格。4月3日から津波で市域の3割が浸水した宮城県多賀城市の中学校に着任する。

 池添さんは「自分一人の力でできることは一つもない。周りの人との支え合いの中で生きていると伝え続けたい」と力を込めた。

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