Interview with Chloe Delzell, a Toyama Goodwill Ambassador from Oregon

Chloe Delzell became a Goodwill Ambassador of Toyama on July 8, 2015

Chloe Delzell, originally from Ashland, Oregon spent four years serving as an Assistant Language Teacher in Toyama Daiichi High School and finished her term this past July. Chloe was one of several teachers to be recognized for their contributions and named as honorary ambassadors of Toyama. Members of the Toyama Honorary Envoy will be expected to maintain and promote ties between Toyama and their home nations and regions. I caught up with Chloe after the ceremony to ask her about what brought her here, and hear her thoughts on the Toyama-Oregon relationship.

Toyama bound!

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Climbing Tongariyama my 1st year in Toyama

After studying abroad in Kanagawa and deciding that I would major in Japanese at my university, I figured that after graduating I would probably
want to come to Japan and work. That’s when I first heard about the JET Program. I couldn’t decide for the longest time whether I should apply but luckily my mom encouraged me to just go for it! So basically, long story short, my placement turned out to be Toyama. I knew nothing about Toyama at first, not even where it was in Japan – I turned to my Japanese friends and the internet for information. I began to feel better after learning that it is a prefecture full of nature, with mountains and the sea, and also that it is located relatively close to Tokyo and Osaka. My Japanese friends responded to all of my questions by telling me, “Mmm, kind of inaka (rural), but it looks like a nice place!” It was around that time that I also discovered about the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon; suddenly it made a lot of sense that I was placed in Toyama.

Impressions of Toyama

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Oregon Booth during JET Fest 2013

I will never forget flying into Toyama Airport four years ago. I was feeling super nervous about meeting my supervisor and finally getting to the place where I would be living for the next year. I saw the river sparkling brightly through the window, and the greenery along the river bed was so vivid it just made me feel a lot calmer. When we walked off the plane, it was so hot I couldn’t believe it!

Now that four years has passed, I would definitely say that my impression of Toyama has changed. At first, I didn’t really know how much of a city Toyama had. Driving down the main street near my apartment I remember thinking how old and rustic (and rusty, haha) many of the shops were. But afterwards, I realized that Toyama’s downtown area really is a proper city with good transportation and most everything a person could want in their everyday life. Also, I always thought that I would move to Tokyo after leaving JET. But I’ve come to realize that I prefer the un-crowded lifestyle of the inaka; there is nature close by and you don’t have to live in a city that never sleeps to have fun.

About the sister state relationship

Thanks to the sister state relationship of Oregon and Toyama, I was able to discover such a nice place that manages to be reminiscent of home, while still being totally different. As a Goodwill Ambassador I definitely plan on continuing to try and wheedle friends and family to come and visit me. My Japanese friends who have come to Toyama are always surprised and say, “I didn’t realize Toyama was such a nice place!” I don’t know where I will be working and living next but to be honest I’d like to stay in Toyama or the Hokuriku area a little bit longer.

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Honorary Ambassadors with representatives of Toyama Prefecture.