In hopes of bridging the language gap between Japan and her country, Reko Dida, 47, created a Japanese-Albanian dictionary this spring — the first such dictionary for the southeastern European nation.
Dida, the wife of Albanian Ambassador to Japan Bujar Dida, 51, said she hopes her 13,000-word dictionary will help the two countries build a stronger relationship.
The Japanese-Albanian dictionary was produced in April in cooperation with the Japan Foundation and a nonprofit organization called Japan Return Program, among others.
Reko Dida, who speaks fluent Japanese, first came to Japan in 1996 with Bujar, who entered a doctoral course at Tohoku University to study chemical engineering.
Knowing little Japanese and having no friends from her country, she fell into a depression and before long was entertaining thoughts of returning home, she said.
The turning point for her came that summer. After watching fireworks and taking part in a local “tanabata” festival and some Bon dance festivals, she was soon captivated by Japanese culture. Thanks to her cheerful and lively personality, she soon made friends with a number of local residents.
To learn more about Japan, Dida began studying Japanese with her son Besar, who was attending a local elementary school, and was soon able to communicate in the language.
Even after returning home in 1999, Dida kept up her Japanese studies, saying she still wanted to continue learning about the country.
During the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, which generated a large number of Albanian refugees, Dida offered language support to Japanese doctors who flew to her country as part of the relief effort.
She also worked at a local office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
It was her notes on Japanese and Albanian translations during this time that would eventually become the basis for her dictionary.
Dida returned to Japan in 2009 when her husband assumed the post of ambassador.
After the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region — including Dida’s second hometown of Sendai — in March 2011, many foreigners left Japan. Some feared the nonstop aftershocks or the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Dida, however, chose to remain.
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