Oxygen shortage, new heights and transformation
"True to my colleagues promises, I became a transformed being."
I found myself smiling as I watched the sky turn into a symphony of vibrant colors when the sun made its way to the top of Mount Fuji. A few days before the end of my stay, I haphazardly decided to make a symbolic exit from my Tax Trek assignment with a trek to the world-renowned volcano, because why not? I was silently congratulating myself for indulging in that crazy idea as I reached the summit. With its towering height of 3,776 meters, Mount Fuji is not at all easy to climb. The entire 12 hours spent trekking to its summit seemed like eternity given that I also had to overcome the fear of oxygen shortage caused by high altitude and hypothermia. Fatigue eventually became the main hurdle, as I found myself walking on uneven and dangerous terrain, with the constant threat of falling debris from volcanic rocks as I made my way downhill.
Looking back, I can’t help but think that the trek was exactly how I would describe my Tax Trek journey – scary at first but rewarding and memorable at the end. It was, in a sense, a trek that pushed me to new heights. It was Tax Trek in Japan personified.
I was always curious why every time my colleagues shared their Tax Trek experiences, I saw in them a transformed individual. I remember telling myself that it was a challenge that I wanted to face someday, that I would have my own version of that transformation. When the opportunity presented itself, I immediately handed in my application and jumped with joy when I was accepted and assigned in Japan.
For a young professional who had never been outside her country, who would be travelling alone, and who only knew a handful of local phrases such as “Arigatou!” and “Sumimasen,” it was my excitement and bravery that surprisingly became my aces for survival.
I was privileged to work with a team with a strong work ethic and professionals who are passionate to serve their clients above and beyond what is required of them. They even helped me realize an important insight in my career as I soon learned that taxation was not a one-person job after all. I eventually learned that a tiny change in a country’s tax reform can create significant effects to clients’ global businesses. I later understood that taxation can never be isolated on its own: it affects everyone else in this highly globalized world.
The after-office bonding with my Japanese colleagues and co-Tax Trekkers, sharing our stories and life lessons over delicious barbeque by the river, or the euphoria we all experienced as we were cheering for the Japan football team in the FIFA World Cup are a few of the things I surely miss. My short stay with them made it bearable to endure my homesickness. In a way, they became my family away from home.
The Land of the Rising Sun also offered its culture with open arms to me. The kid in me would always get ecstatic as I visited museums to learn about the run-of-the-mill lives of Japanese people way back in Edo Period or how every time I tried my luck at omikuji, I would be blessed with “Great Fortune.”
It was interesting how easy it was to ask for directions every time I found myself in the wrong alley, or how they would greet me with their trademark and respectable demeanor. Japanese people won’t hesitate to go beyond their way to help those in need. I, for certain, can attest to this when I lost my phone while visiting sites in Nara. A family helped and even accompanied me to the bus station despite being exhausted from their trip and from the weight of carrying their two children under the blazing heat of the summer sun. It was truly a magnificent experience to be able to connect with another human being in the most authentic and honest way despite the language barrier.
True to my colleagues’ shared stories and promises, I became a transformed being – professionally and personally.
To those who aspire to experience this once-in-a- lifetime transformation, be bolder than your inhibitions. This initiative of KPMG Global will help you develop talents and skills you will need to become a better professional and you will find yourself imbibing KPMG values with a global outlook.
They say that experience is always the best teacher. Tax Trek will surely take you to new heights, and you will see yourself on top of the clouds with a full 360 degree view of the world.
Be ready to be transformed.
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