<フローレス・スミコ/Sumiko Flores>

higuchiaki今回は、スペイン系チャモロ人と日本人のハーフで、グアムで18年間過ごしたSumiko Floresさんをインタビューさせていただきました!18歳の時に、単身で日本に留学され、上智大学卒業後、大手IT会社を経て、現在はベンチャー企業勤務。いつも笑顔のSumikoさんにハッピーの秘訣をお伺いしました!

sumikoflores—Could you tell me about your job?
I work at a tech startup, specifically Operations for an online payment service. I handle customer inquiries, monitor transactions, check products, improve functions based on customer’s needs, etc. Because we’re such a small team, only 7 people right now, each person is valuable, and it allows everyone to contribute to the team. I learn new things everyday and though it’s a lot of pressure and challenging, it’s worth it.


—Seems like a really open-minded environment!
It really is. There are about 50 people in the Tokyo office right now – from different countries and backgrounds. I grew up in Guam, which is a melting pot for many cultures so this kind of environment is best suited for me.


—What’s something memorable that your parents said to you?
When I was 15 my parents told me that I had to earn my own spending money. I started working at a photography studio, where I sold pictures to tourists, and then worked at a restaurant soon after. I went to an all girls college-preparatory high school so juggling two jobs and school was tough.



—Tough love!
And then when I was 18 they told me to pay for my college tuition. I couldn’t really speak Japanese at the time so I was pretty scared and worried, but I knew it was my mom’s way of telling me to be independent.



—You must have worked really hard to pay your tuition.
Yes. I had so many part time jobs! I’ve taught English, tutored math for international school students, and worked at a soba place, Abercrombie, and the Apple Store. At one point I was working 3 jobs at the same time.

はい。大学時代は、英語を教えたり、インターナショナルスクールの子に数学を教えたり、アパレルブランド・Abercrombie&fitchで、ショップ店員をしたり、Apple storeでセールスや契約、カスタマーサポートの仕事をしていました。一時期は、家庭教師、アパレルショップ、蕎麦屋3つのバイトをかけもちしたことがあり、結構大変な時期もありました。


—Wow. Are those experiences influencing your behavior?
Yeah. I’ve always been pretty independent, solving things on my own. So when people decide things for me I get annoyed. Haha Even when my boss tells me to do something I’m always asking questions. I like talking, discussing and being logical.


—You’re always happy. What do you do to keep yourself happy?
I try to surround myself with people that make me happy. Before I used to want a lot of friends, but now I just want to spend more time with the few people that I trust.



—What was the biggest turning point in your life?
I have two. The first is when I moved to Japan when I was 18. Since my mother is Japanese, I wanted to learn the language and get to know the culture. Studying Japanese while working to pay for my tuition was difficult. Looking back, it was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. The second was when I switched jobs this year. I went from working at a big IT company to a small startup. I absolutely love my job and my team, and am motivated to become successful. 



—What do you think you would have been doing if you didn’t choose to come to Japan?
I probably would have gone to the states. I feel like there are a lot more scholarships that you don’t have to pay back and financial aid over there so it probably would have been easier. Plus the language. Haha But I don’t regret anything.



—You’re always smiling!
I get that a lot. I’m easy to entertain – I laugh at everything. I realized recently that Guam people laugh a lot. And they’re always friendly. In Japan, Tokyo mainly, people are so nice but not so friendly.



—What are some tips to stay happy?
1. Always be thankful. When you compare yourself to other people and focus on the things you don’t have, you’ll never be happy. When I get sad I always think, I have an amazing family, great friends, a job I love – and most of the time, that alone makes me feel better.

2. If you’re not happy with something, change it. It’s easier said than done but if there’s something bringing you down, you can’t just hope it’ll go away – you have to do something about it.


—What do you think your identity is made of?
Identity.. I would say Guam. Although Guam is a tiny island with only 170,000 people, it’s multicultural. Growing up in that environment, I’ve learned to be open-minded – not judging people right away, listening to different opinions, always being curious – and I get along with different types of people.


—What is your dream?
I don’t have anything concrete in mind but I want to start some kind of business in Guam. Hopefully with my dad – who has been in the hotel/F&B industry since I can remember. I want to give back to Guam and my parents.


sumikoflores<スミコ・フローレス/Sumiko Flores>

photo by 吁九志

1989年生まれ。北京大学国際関係学部卒業。株式会社Selan代表。インタビューサイト "belong" を運営。