125 ELSI's Bedrock: The Life Advisor

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. Those of us who first joined ELSI have formed a tight-knit community that is like our family away from home. Sayaka Price was one of the founding members of the ELSI administrative unit and served as our relocation specialist and life advisor. She was our first point of contact at ELSI, and my husband, my daughter, and I were her first assignment. In addition to working together, we developed a great friendship. She was so skilled at her work of solving all of our life's problems, that we knew it was only a matter of time until she would move on to bigger and more challenging positions. After 2.5 years at ELSI, Sayaka moved to the United States, but her cheerful disposition and dedication to her work still reverberate through ELSI's halls.

01280.jpgSayaka, our ever-patient and skilled Japanese teacher at ELSI

In fact, Sayaka was so skilled that we eventually discovered that she had spent already time in the US earning a Masters in Education for teaching Japanese to foreigners. Thus began Japanese class at ELSI. She is a truly gifted educator as I found myself learning even when I was not in the mood to do so. Although I have not been the best student, the lessons I learned have helped me greatly to interact with and become a part of my local community. Thanks to Sayaka, I have a feeling of belonging here that I would not have been able to achieve without her interactive lessons. Luckily, Sayaka's replacement, Reika Sakai, also has training in language instruction and has been able to continue to offer language integration to ELSI scientists and their families.

0128a.jpgAs ELSI's Life Advisor, Sayaka (right) always kept her focus on nurturing us to be able to deal with life situations in Japan. More than make calls for us to solve our problems, she taught us how to handle them

It is rare to find someone who is so talented and cares so deeply about their job while bringing a contagious joy to their workplace. Sayaka taught us many valuable lessons about how to navigate administrative bureaucracy, Japanese frugality, enjoying Japanese sweets, how difficult it is to get a cell phone, how to celebrate Japanese holidays, getting groceries from your life insurance agent, navigating websites in Japanese, how to discuss gross things with your child's daycare, how to unravel the maternity leave and daycare system, how to address an envelope, how to keep calm when boiling mad, and how to make our visitors feel welcome upon their arrival.

As Sayaka's time here came to an end, many of us had to wean ourselves from relying on her constant diligence in our lives. Even if she had stayed, it was time. There is a constant flux of new ELSI scientists and visitors that need assistance more than those of us who have had time to acclimate. I have grown stronger and am able to take on tasks that I would have never dreamed possible just a few years ago. However, it is reassuring to know that Sakai-san is now here as my safety net. This is one of those times that you truly cannot thank someone enough, but I have to try. Thank you Sayaka! Bon Voyage!

0128b.jpgForever cheerful Sayaka hanging out in ELSI's common space -- we miss her smile