Yoshiaki Nagasawa, also known as Yoshi, worked with FunDza for a five-month internship and melted the hearts of each staff member he encountered. Yoshi is not just a technology genius, he also has a heart for people as he says, “I hope to change the world by designing something that would help children.” Find out his story!
“I’ve always been interested in crafts, ever since my childhood. I always made something with the empty box of cornflakes or other kinds of food.”
What seemed like garbage or waste to others, Yoshi saw value in it, as he continues to say, “When I was 14 at junior high school, a senior mentioned electronic crafts to me. Since then, I started studying programming by myself as a hobby, although I went on to study law, my passion for crafts remains strong.”
Yoshi is from Hokkiado Japan, we asked him about the experience he had in South Africa and this is what he had to say: “I was surprised by people’s openness and kindness. Many people were so helpful towards me. In Japan it is very different, people are not as helpful. I also love South African culture, people love music and dancing, I found myself dancing to the music too.”
Yoshi has not only been to Cape Town, but he has travelled as far as Egypt, Singapore, Zambia, the United States and Brazil. “I have been to China, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, India, Philippines, and of course, Muizenberg beach!”
Yoshi developed a system for FunDza that gives readers the pleasure and enjoyment of downloading content on the FunDza site for free when there is no internet. He explains: “I developed a system which can provide learning contents for children. I used a Raspberry Pi, a very small computer, to develop a web server which doesn’t need an internet connection. This means, students can download the content on the FunDza website free of charge.”
Yoshi continues to say, “Mignon Hardie, FunDza’s director, came up with the idea. I was so impressed by it that I devoted myself to developing the system.”
Yoshi says his motivation comes from seeing a smile on someone’s face and knowing that he has made someone happy. “I always feel happy when seeing someone’s smile. I think I can make someone smile by what I make. Reading and books also inspire me; one of my favourite books is written by one of my university’s old students, Kanzo Uchimura, The Greatest Legacy.”
Yoshi has graduated and focuses on cyber security for developing countries.
“After graduating, I’m starting my career at one of the telecommunication companies in Japan. I’ll study network as an infrastructure and hope to be a great engineer who can contribute not only to Japanese development but also to other countries.”
But where does the young Yoshiaki see himself in the next five to ten years? We asked, and this is what he said: “I hope to study engineering at a university, and after that I wish to study abroad again. In ten years’ time I wish to start my career as an entrepreneur or inventor for equal education.”
Yoshi also plans to come back to Africa. “I cannot say thank you enough to all the people who have helped and encouraged me while I was in South Africa. I promise to come back to South Africa again.”
Yoshi concludes with a word of encouragement to all inventors out there: “If you’re thinking about doing it, then just do it. Each success and each failure is a learning curve and an opportunity to grow. If you hesitate to do something and end up not doing it, you’ll never reach your goal or gain experience.”