A lesson in how to overcome your fears and change your destiny.

Moving to a new country can be a stressful and isolating experience, especially if you’re far from the city centre and yet to master the local language. That’s the situation one woman found herself in when she moved from Japan to the countryside of southern Houston in the U.S., with no car and the nearest cafe over two kilometres (1.2 miles) away.

Twitter user Sumati (@sumati8), a community manager who works with the Japanese expat population in Houston, recently met this woman, and her story was so impressive she asked if she could share it online.

The woman gladly agreed, in the hopes that her experience will help others in a similar situation to hers. It’s a heartwarming tale of perseverance that everyone can glean some inspiration from, and it involves two of our favourite things — cafes and origami.

According to Sumati, the woman moved to Houston without a lot of notice as she was accompanying her spouse on an overseas assignment. When they arrived, she had no access to a car and she couldn’t speak English, and she didn’t have any friends or family nearby to turn to.

There was, however, a cafe two kilometres away, so she decided to walk there and order a drink, sitting at a table to enjoy the ambience outside of the house. The next day, she did the same thing, and the next day, the same thing again, over and over until half a year had passed.

Every day, she would sit at a table, put on her headphones, and while she sipped on her drink, she silently made origami.

▼ This photo, kindly sent to us from the woman at the centre of the story, shows us one of the amazing origami creations she made at the cafe.

Not only was it a relaxing way to pass the time, it was also a great way for her to hone her origami skills. However, the real surprise to come out of her daily visits to the cafe was the fact that it resulted in her integrating into the community, so much so that she ended up getting a job teaching origami at a community college.

As Sumati tells it (translation follows):

“According to her, ‘Sticking to this routine every day for half a year will improve your origami skills’. But also, word gradually spread about the Asian person who visits every day and makes amazing things. And then she was invited to local events until she finally ended up teaching origami at a community college. This is what happened!!!”

It’s a wonderful rags-to-riches story, with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow being the treasured, newfound friendships made in the community, and it’s all thanks to coffee and origami.

Sumati went on to say that the story reminded her of two proverbs:

Gei wa mi wo tasuku“, which literally means “Art helps the body“, but is often translated as “Art brings bread


Keizoku wa chikara nari“, which translates to “Continuation is power” but can also be understood as “Slow and steady wins the race“.

So even if you’re not a paper-crafting genius, this story is a great reminder that just showing up and being consistent with your routine, no matter what it involves, can end up bringing you great rewards beyond anything you might’ve imagined possible.

Becoming an origami teacher certainly wasn’t something Sumati’s new friend had ever planned for, but now that she’s in that position in the community, everyone can benefit from her love of paper crafts, including those online who heard her story and left comments like:

“I taught Iai and Kendo overseas and everyone’s enthusiasm really stuck with me.”
“I knew a man who was unsure of what to do when he was invited to barbecues in the U.S. so he started to bring a special charcoal barbecue along to make yakitori and everyone loved it!”
“People who’ve lived overseas know that putting yourself out there takes courage and commitment!”
“It’s a lot of fun to be a regular at a cafe, even in Japan. Sometimes the staff will chat to you while you’re silently working in their cafe, which is great!”
“About five years ago I was making folded paper cranes with napkins at a restaurant in Cordoba, Spain, and a child was looking at me so I gave one to them. It brought joy to both of us.”

Making a connection with others in a foreign land isn’t always easy, but if you’ve got some origami skills to pull out of your back pocket it might just be the thing you need to make that first connection. And if you know how to make origami memory jars, that’ll definitely start a conversation!

Source: Twitter/@sumati8 via Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso, Twitter/@sumati8
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!