September 2012

Koichi Fujii: Just do my best toward anything I do now

Koichii Fujii, the director of Man Césped National Music Academy, is one of the most famous and beloved Japanese in Cochabamba. This has not been the result of his career, but rather the natural consequence of his positive leadership and spirit.

By: Shiho Koyama
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Osaka - Japan

Koichi Fujii
Photo: Nina Feger

“I never dreamed,” Koichi continued, “Take many small steps in the right direction if you want to succeed. Do not think to make a great leap forward. The small-scale approach finally achieves great things.” He successfully put Man Césped National Music Academy back on its feet in doing so. Having always devoted all of himself to anything he did for the better it was no surprise that he earned tremendous support from the general public as well as people concerned with music. While local people strongly believe that Koichi is a great leader and they cannot succeed without him he does not think so. “I can take initiative, but the final decision is in hands of Cochabambinos as well as their future. They strongly support me being active here and worked hard together,” he congratulated them on their participation and engagement, recalling events from about 23 years ago when he started teaching in Bolivia.

After more than 10 years of dedicated service to the field of education in Japan, he came to La Paz as a member of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to teach conducting in 1989. Since then, he has effectively tackled a number of strategic and management roles as well as teaching. Having worked with people of different backgrounds, experiences and values it sometimes took a very long time to persuade them to understand his concept. Whatever he does, wherever he is, however, what he keeps in mind is the same; to deal with in all sincerity. He devoted himself to discuss with others and to take the lead for a project success. Most importantly, he never forgets to enjoy himself and to make people happy even in a difficult situation.

Man Cesped main building
Photo: Nina Feger

What motivates him to stay strong is young people’s ambition in classical music. “I many times thought about leaving here,” Koichi said, “By coincidence, Bolivian people really needed me every time I thought such things.” At his school, Koichi encourages them at the start of their study and career with teaching music and how to approach to a goal. When it comes to playing classical music, he always tells to students “Play for listeners. It is not for fun,” because he thinks that professional players are a connector between a composer and listeners. As one of important things in life, he teaches to show respect to others and to find their good aspects regardless of age and backgrounds. Punctuality and cleaning of the school facilities by all students are the same. The reason why he does is because they are vitally essential to learn cooperation with others, ethics, a sense of responsibility, and public morality.

“He thinks that professional players are a connector between a composer and listeners”.

Such philosophy was very much influenced by his father. Koichi was born to the family of a fruit store in Osaka, one of the most lively business cities in the country, and learnt from his father’s approach to his job and customers. While it is difficult for some Japanese to say that right is right and wrong is wrong, he always lived by his own code. And he never forgives victory reached by violence. One more strong principle, he never wasted his income. Having thought it makes his customers happy he always invested his income to improve his business. This is a more familiar Japanese spirit to him.

Sheet music
Photo: Nina Feger

His birthplace, Osaka, greatly affected his positive personality as well. “Because I am Osaka people…,” laughed Koichi, when asked why you are energetic even in hard time. Osaka people are well known as cheerful, energetic and sometimes funny. Also, they are willing to help someone and a master of making people cheer up by their talks. “I actually had been sued by some parents of students. I could not get my salary for 8 months,” kept laughed Koichi. Not only he can be positive even when bad things happens, but also he can make people laugh by talking his story.

“After more than 10 years of dedicated service to the field of education in Japan, he came to La Paz as a member of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers”

Although such spirits keep him going, the warm heart of Bolivian people is always with him. Koichi receives encouraging words in all places every day and he said: “I would like to thank for their hard work and also for the personal support they offered me.” Moreover, he is more than happy to work with children who have a passion to improve. “Education can provide such students with something rewarding, but we cannot offer such a pure heart,” smiled Koichi.

Today, many Japanese people as well as local people designed to support his spirit in each way. The ministry of foreign affairs of Japan and company is also happy to support young people’s dream. It is one of the worthwhile jobs Koichi gave. While Osaka may have lost a good educator, it gained a great international person who makes a difference in the world. I am grateful to share the same identity with him.

Man Cesped Student
Photo: Nina Feger
Mariano Melgarejo

Mariano Melgarejo was born 1820 in Tarata an old colonial town, less than onehour drive away from Cochabamba, to a mestizo family. It wasn’t until he came to power in 1864 that it became apparent this small town had given birth to one of the most incompetent, corrupt rulers that Bolivia has ever seen. Before his rule he served in the army as general and was involved in three coups including that which brought him to power.

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