First Samoan with disability to receive Duskin scholarship in Japan

Thirty-year-old Ari Hazelman is the first Samoan living with a disability to undergo the Duskin Leadership Training Programme in Japan for people living with disability.

As a man who is blind, he is also the only recipient of the leadership award for people living with a disability in the Pacific Islands, to be selected to attend the training programme out of over 100 applicants. 

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mr. Hazelman said he is humbled and honoured to represent Samoa and the Pacific, especially people living with disability.

“First of all I feel very humbled to be able to get this opportunity, knowing that I’m the first Samoan to do so and secondly, this opportunity is very small limited, over a hundred people apply for it. The selection criteria is very rigorous so they may end up selecting only five to a maximum of five people,” he said.

“I think that it will build up my ability to relate to people and connect with people, especially in terms of networking because if you understand other person’s culture and language, it will be easier for you to network and also it can also open doors to create more partnerships and networks between us here in Samoa and also people in Japan so that they can also learn about our Samoan culture.”

The training programme will start from September this year to June next year – the first three months will be spent learning the Japanese language (including the spoken language, written as well as Japanese braille).  When the programme gets underway, it will all be in Japanese language, as the training facilitators believe that by knowing the language and culture, it will be easier for them to learn and also fit in with the people.

In previous years there were candidates from Fiji and the Solomon Islands, but the selection of Mr. Hazelman marks a first. 

The training programme is only for people living with a disability and are between the ages of 18-30. Applicants can apply from any where in the Asia Pacific Region and if they get shortlisted, the program managers will visit the countries of each candidate and interview them and the organisations that they are currently involved with.

They will also sit a language test and the committee will meet to determine who will make the cut. 

Mr. Hazelman's main goal after the training, is to be able to show and explain to people with disability in Samoa, some of the technologies that he’ll be using that can be used in Samoa.

I feel that these trainings will help me a lot because I know that some of what I’ll learn can be applied to Samoa, especially in terms of learning from different legislations that they have in Japan, and that can help with the furthering of our advocacy chorus that we have here in Samoa,” he said.

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