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Networking Seminar “Choosing Japan Again: Leandro Madeira Branco’s strong academic association with the country Timor-Leste (December 2022)”

Choosing Japan Again: Leandro Madeira Branco’s strong academic association with the country Timor-Leste -Voice of Networking Seminar-

JICA Interviewee profile


Name: Leandro Madeira Branco
Country of Origin: Timor-Leste
Faculty and University: Graduate School of Science and Technology for Innovation, Yamaguchi University, Japan
JICA Course: Human Resources Development in Science, Technology and Innovation
Research Area/Theme: Civil engineering

Leandro Madeira Branco is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in Yamaguchi University. He has a master’s degree in Science and Technology for Innovation from Yamaguchi University, that means, he came back again. Post his doctoral studies at Yamaguchi University, he intends to take up the position of a Graduate School Lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology (FECT), the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), which will be established as new master course next year through JICA technical cooperation project.

Choosing JICA Scholarship for Japan


When Mr. Leandro came to know about the JICA-DSP, he had already formed working associations with many Japanese researchers during his master's course in Yamaguchi University through JICA Scholarship Program (JICA-DSP), which is a form of technical cooperation that JICA carries out in Japan. He had also interacted with multiple Japanese lecturers and scientists. Thus, he chose Japan to continue his higher education and JICA gave him the perfect opportunity. Even though his home country offered scholarships to study in Portugal, Brazil, Indonesia, and other foreign countries, he decided to come to Japan.

Mr. Leandro trusted the science education and infrastructure and atmosphere that Japan provided to hone his research skills. During his master's program at Yamaguchi University, he learnt the basics of experiment design, rational thinking, writing research papers, and the process of publishing research in national and international journals.

Networking Seminar and Modernization Lectures

JICA organizes various events such as Networking Seminars, Modernization Lectures, and so on. The Networking Seminars provide an indispensable opportunity to meet other JICA scholars. Mr. Leandro recently had the chance of attending “The Networking Seminar December 2022” and interacting with JICA scholars from abroad and JICA officers. He recalls enlightening discussions that took place about how Japan build itself and rose from the ashes of World War II as a part of this seminar. This was the first time that he attended them, and that the seminar was not related to his field of study, i.e., civil engineering. However, he found the information on Japan’s modernization to be very interesting. In particular, he was strongly drawn to how Japan rebuilt itself after the war into a developed country.

Research in Japan


Speaking of research atmosphere and academic life in Japan, Mr. Leandro draws from his experience of conducting studies in concrete structures and materials and says that the environment was very different in Japan compared to his home country, with respect to the process of learning, precision in experiments, and interpretation of the results. He also stresses on the importance of publishing in international journals while pursuing higher education, such as Masters degrees and doctoral courses.

After completing his doctoral studies at Yamaguchi University, Mr. Leandro is considering continuing as a lecturer and researcher at UNTL. Additionally, he wishes to contribute his service to the community at UNTIL and to the general society in Timor-Leste. He is interested in enhancing his understanding and knowledge and developing his skill set by conducting experiments along with his students as well as personal fundamental research experiments, by doing personal reading of literature related to his research field, and by taking seminars and lessons provided by JICA.

Continuing Life in the Japanese countryside

"Life in Ube is very comfortable," says Mr. Leandro. Ube is the city name in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Since he was already living in Japan for some time now, he was well acquainted with the cultures and customs of the country. He could also effectively communicate with his supervisor and use the countrywide applications for information and service sharing. Thus, it was helpful and contributed to his decision to continue his studies in Japan through the JICA-DSP.

Mr. Leandro returned to Yamaguchi University as he felt drawn to the serenity and peace that the countryside provided. "It is much less crowded than the cities", he says. Life is slower and more peaceful as compared to major hubs like Tokyo, for example. But the place is an industrial suburb that has grown around a cement industrial factory. Thus, all comfort-living facilities are available. The shopping center is well stocked. The religious establishments are very welcoming of newcomers. Mr. Leandro also attributes his choice to the familiarity of life in Ube city, Yamaguchi,

Advice for future JICA scholars

Mr. Leandro recognizes the JICA-DSP for providing the opportunity to further his education in an institution that was more advanced compared to the research facilities available to him in his home country.

While he was already familiar with the institution and the local culture as he had studied there earlier, Mr. Leandro has some words of advice for aspiring scholars who wish to apply for the JICA-DSP. "Get familiar with journal articles in your preferred field and contact the supervisors (professors) and discuss before defining your research statement," he says. He also emphasizes a thorough understanding of intermediate and advanced English, as many universities in Japan are currently providing numerous courses in English.

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