Mariko's story: There is something new to learn every day
My name is Mariko Hayashi. I am 25. I was born in a small town in south of Japan. I currently live in Peckham, South East London. I came to the UK almost 7 years ago to study at university. I love being in London because it always make me feel connected to the whole world. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world and finding out about their country, culture and lives. There is something new to learn every day. I am now working as an administrator for a company which runs international schools, and my office is based at Surrey University in Guildford. I also work in London 2 days a week. I am actively involved with working with migrants. I set up an action group for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Walthamstow in East London with other local volunteers in the area. We are working to help migrants build better integration with wider communities. Although I was hoping to stay in the UK for longer, I have decided to return to Japan at the end of this year as I have experienced difficulties extending my visa. I have not many plans after I return to Japan yet, but I am looking forward to spending time with my family which I haven't done much in the last 7 years. I also want to get involved with work for migrants in Japan to learn about migration matters there. I have been very concerned about the UK government's recent anti-immigration campaign including 'go-home' vans and stop and search checks, which sends very negative message not only to migrants but also British people who have built strong relationship with migrants. I have built very strong connections with British people and I do feel part of the community, but the increasingly negative messages sent by the government and media make me feel less welcome here.