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Meet Satoru Yamaki

“I was alone. I didn’t know anyone, and I couldn’t speak the language.”

Growing up in Japan, Satoru Yamaki had dreams of experiencing new cultures and perspectives. He loved his home country, but he knew there was a world waiting for him to explore. So when it came time to decide where to go to college, he had his eyes firmly set on the U.S.

“I remember searching for schools in California and coming across MiraCosta College,” shared Yamaki. “I still didn’t know English so I used the Google Translate function to read about its programs and campus life.”

Yamaki was hooked. His family didn’t have much money at the time, but he felt that MiraCosta College was the perfect place for him to grow as a student and a person. He quickly found a homestay family nearby in Vista and enrolled in 2007. Once on campus, Yamaki made every attempt he could to connect with English speakers across campus and the surrounding community.

Admittedly, those early days were tough. With limited English skills at the time, Yamaki remembers every day being an uphill battle to succeed, both socially and in the classroom.

“I’m not normally a shy person, but not being able to speak the language made it difficult to connect with people,” shared Yamaki. “I spent my first few semesters going to professors’ office hours during every break.”

He still remembers one early interaction with his reading instructor. Yamaki was steadfast in his commitment to learning English quickly, so he decided not to take reading with the other English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Instead, he was the only non-fluent speaker in his class and approached his teacher about whether or not he could keep up. Recognizing Yamaki’s desire to learn, she told him that it wasn’t about catching up with his peers, it was about what you do and what you learn.

Yamaki did more than keep up. He finished with an A in that class.

Within a few semesters, Yamaki had improved his language skills and relished the new experiences he was having at MiraCosta College. When asked how his experience on campus shaped his life now, Yamaki was quick to point to his professors and the diverse set of classes he took while enrolled.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at first,” noted Yamaki. “At MiraCosta College, I was able to try different things and see what I did and didn’t like. Every professor was so nice and took the time to help me find my passion and achieve whatever goals I had.”

Yamaki also loved the community he developed while he was a student. Once he mastered the language, Yamaki loved communicating with his peers and found himself in search of community at every turn.

Today, he carries that passion forward as a business owner of Ikagai Artifacts. While he maintains a full-time job at a local manufacturing company, he spends many hours creating and selling artwork from his storefront in Oceanside’s Artist Alley. It’s a career he wouldn’t trade for the world. Especially because it fulfills his main passion in life—community building.

As Yamaki explained, one of the biggest reasons he opened his own shop was to bring together and uplift his fellow creators and neighbors in Oceanside. He regularly hosts events and fairs that bring the public together to connect and be inspired by one another.

“There is so much more I want to create, but when I look back I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do for my community,” explained Yamaki.

He continued, “When I first arrived, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t speak the language, but I knew I wanted to make a positive impact in the community. And I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be doing just that each and every day here in Oceanside.”

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