“I don’t know if I’ll ever blend in,” says Thao, who was in for a rude awakening when she joined the sales force of an IT consulting firm in Tokyo. Straight out of college, her first few weeks on the job tested her mettle as an all-Japanese corporate environment proved too demanding.

“Everything was in Japanese. I found it somewhat hard to keep up at times,” she says while recounting their company’s employee onboarding program. “I’m usually the one leading group discussions. But my Japanese isn’t on par with native speakers so it was a bit debilitating,” says our newbie from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Thao blending well with the poster for an ad

Good thing this interloper knows no retreat nor surrender. “I’m now more motivated than ever to study Japanese and show my boss and co-workers that I’m a `nandemo dekiru onna’(何でもできる女),”–a badge of honor worn by women adept at everything, from crafting impressive e-mails to signing multimillion dollar deals. Basically high-flying achievers, the likes of Marissa Mayer.

We’re rooting for you, Thao. Soon you’ll be giving TED Talks-like presentations to big clients with aplomb. In English, Japanese, or Vietnamese for that matter.

Japan’s ubiquitous toy dispensers

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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