PNG software engineer takes on the world from Japan | Pacific Beat

PNG software engineer takes on the world from Japan

PNG software engineer takes on the world from Japan

Updated 11 July 2014, 17:39 AEST

While Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his delegation are in Papua New Guinea there is an adventurous group of Papua New Guineans going about their daily business in Japan.

One of those is Dr Raula Kula a boy from Poromana village in Central Province who is now working at Osaka University on cutting-edge computer software research using the latest techniques for analysing big data.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Dr Raula Kula, Specially Appointed Assistant Professor in Sofware Engineering, Osaka University

GARRETT: The food, the music, the culture, the history: 33-year old Raula Kula is sold on Japan.

Having lived in the United States and Australia, training to be a software engineer, he has something to compare it to.

The inspiration for his travels started when he was just a little boy in his home village, watching television.

KULA: I really wanted to see what was out there, you know, see the world. And I think that is what motivated me was that, you know, the world in the box was so different to what we had in Port Moresby.

GARRETT: Dr Kula has been living in Osaka since he was 26 but staying so long was a bit of an accident.

KULA: While I was working in Papua New Guinea I saw the ad in the paper about scholarships to Japan and I was like 'Why not? I will just do a research thing'. You know, it was like a 6 months program so I was like 'Why not? I'll do six months, get some experience, and then come back,' but that was about 7 years ago. So after that, when I arrived in Japan I just continued from research, into Masters (of software engineering) into PhD (in software engineering) and then after that they offered me a position. So I am just continuing from that.

GARRETT: So did you have to learn Japanese to study in Japan?

KULA: Yes, I did! (laughs) And it was very, very difficult the first time I have to admit.

GARRETT: You have recently been back in Port Moresby helping other indigenous entrepreneurs to start up their businesses. What opportunities do you see for interactions between the ICT Iinformation and communications technology) industry in PNG and the ICT industry in Japan?

KULA: Actually that is a very good point. At this stage, I went back just to get a glimpse of what is happening in PNG, as opposed to in Japan, and now, actually, I have spoken with some of the professors here (in Osaka) and they are very enthusiastic about collaborations. And I think Papua New Guinea has a potential, really big potential, with all these projects going arund and how the economy has shaped up and actually there are really young vibrant entruepreneurs in ICT that are there, so I think they can make it happen.

GARRETT: After 5 years study in Osaka, Dr Kula is now working in ground-breaking research on more efficient methods for software engineers to obtain and use existing computer code to build new systems.

It is exciting work, but he says, there is a lot more to love about Japan.

KULA: . I love the food, beautiful food. The second thing is the culture of being on time, accurate. They are so precise. And the final one is safety-wise, here there is a sense of respect so you feel pretty safe. It is actually pretty scary, you could probably lose your wallet somewhere and it will still be there when you come back!

GARRETT: What is the strangest thing that has ever happend to you in Japan?

KULA: Uh/ Strangest thing? People mistaking me for a Japanese!

GARRETT: If your wantoks were going to visit Japan where would you take them or what would you show them?

First of all I would probably show them the food, first and foremost. And then probably take them to some of the culturall places, like the old temples. I think these places are amazing -to keep them in their current state! The third place is probably the public onsens, you know, the spring baths! That is an experience! You actually go there and it is split between men and women but you have to bare it all! You just take off your clothes and you go in there and you enjoy the water.

GARRETT: Having lived in Japan for so long how does Raula Kula see himself - as a global citizen, Pacific Islander, a Papua New Guinean or a boy from Poromana village?

KULA: (Laughs) Oh, first and foremost, I think that I am a Poromana person, (laughs) Central province! And every time someone asks me where is Papua New Guinea, I think I am a representative of my country, of my province,and where I am from and I never forget that. However, that being said, I think with being out for so long, I can understand different cultures and how people react to things and, you know, after you get that understanding I think you can relate to people more. So I see myself as the boy from Poromana but I also understand where everyone else is from, where they are all coming from.

GARRETT: How has you time in Japan changed the way you see Papua New Guinea?

KULA: Actually it has changed my way of thinking of things in general because, in Japan here, it is really interesting how they keep up with the latest technologies yet keep their culture very strong. You know, they are very strong in the Japanese way of doing things. And I think in Papua New Guinea we can learn a lot from that. We don't need to change all our culture just to suit the modern society. I think we can bring things that are good from PNG and integraqte that into our modern society, where we are going. I am a strong believer in that and that is what Japan has taught me.

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