Founders Interview: International Understanding Forum (IUF)
A new and exciting event "International Understanding Forum (IUF)" has been organized, aimed at deepening cross-cultural understanding about various themes. IUF was founded by four students, belonging to Global Technology Architects Course (GAC) and/ or International Exchange Club (TUT CALL).
Here is the interview of the four founders, who have a special passion to organize the event, which was recorded just after the first event held on June 13th.
Founders of "International Understanding Forum (IUF)"
・LIM JIA YEN (Undergraduate fourth year, GAC)
・Kanata TANAKA (Undergraduate fourth year, GAC, a member of TUT CALL)
・Chinatsu KAWAKAMI (Undergraduate fourth year, GAC)
・Shogo HARADA (Undergraduate fourth year, the chairperson of TUT CALL)
From left： Chinatsu, Kanata, Lim, Shogo
Q1: What are the purposes and ideas behind organizing the IUF?
Lim: TUT is well-known for having the feature of a globalized and diverse atmosphere in its campus, especially with its high percentage of international students coming from every corner of the world and Japanese students from all over Japan. However, not everyone realizes the advantages and opportunities this diveristy brings. Therefore, IUF would like to provide this platform. Anyone who has extraordinary backgrounds, thoughts, and ideas is encouraged to share and speak out their stories, experiences and encounters. We hope these voices can be heard and the values can be circulated in the university and spread to the world outside, and eventually make some changes.
Q2: What are your ideas behind IUF?
Lim: I believe everyone is unique and special in their own way of being different from one another. I respect everyone for being different, with their own ideas, stories, personalities, and beliefs. Accepting these makes us great. At one moment I found out that being able to listen to voices that speak out the differences is so precious. It needs courage to face discrimination and so on, but it might be so meaningful and inspiring to someone and make a difference. At the same time, TUT gathers people with diverse backgrounds from many countries. So, it made me think of doing something and I came up with the idea of having IUF in TUT to provide a platform for encouraging people to speak out and listen to others. I personally enjoy listening to students or university staffs coming from other parts of the world, especially when they share their personal and hometown stories together with their original personal thoughts. The world is wide, there are no limits for us to learn more, just by being more accepting of others.
Kanata: Although there are so many international students, we don't have enough chance to use English except for daily casual conversation. But after we get a job such as an engineer or researcher, we need the ability of presentation. I hope that we can provide the chance to improve this skill.
Chinatsu: There are many international students in TUT and we have a lot of chances to communicate with them on our school life or international events. However, I think it was not easy especially for Japanese who wants to speak English or make friends with international students to get into action. Many reasons they couldn't get these chances are considered, but for example, since these events were only held only in certain circle or only held with same members. Therefore, I thought it would be a good chance to hold this kind of presentation event for the person who'd like to touch English and foreign culture. Because this presentation event is not only interesting but also educational, Japanese and international students, teachers and staff can join, and it is open for anyone, so the relaxed atmosphere can help anyone join with ease. Experiences to create presentations with limited time will be helpful in our future as a researcher, engineer and so on. For audiences, they can gain techniques how to listen and how to ask questions in English. Especially, participants can get an understanding of international cultures, as well as develop the relationship between students and faculty members. I hope the event will be a opportunity that is easy to join for anyone, as well as provide a special experience to communicate internationally and improve their English skills.
Shogo: The aims of this event are to supply an opportunity to let the students get used to using English and to get a broad view about other country's culture. From my point of view, Japanese feel challenged to speak in English, they easily lose their confidence of speaking English as they are compared with those of native even though they think that they want to improve their English. Actually, I have seen some students making fun of other students speaking English native like. I think that's a normal scene in Japan but it's getting better though. And I also used to feel that it was hard to talk in English in those days. But I entered TUT and I realized that English has its own characteristics based on the person who speaks while I was chatting with International students. And the point is that their English was not completely the same as those of American or British in its accent and grammar, furthermore they didn't care about those differences. That experience has let me think this problem is a thing only in Japan. Nowadays I believe that English is changing beside the surroundings such as the speaker and their origins and their differences are of no concern as long as their English works to communicate effectively. This event will not only have International students but also Japanese students, I want you to see them talking together and change your thoughts about English.
Q3: How did you join the event committee?
Shogo: I got a message from Lim and I was glad to help organize an English discussion event. I had an experience when I carried out a similar presentation event previously. Those days there were not enough people to keep doing that and I was still thinking that I want to do it again. And then this event came up.
Chinatsu: Some of Global house residences talked that they would like to hold such a presentation event in SNS during last spring break. To conduct the event, Mr. Lim, who is the leader of this event, talked to me to help to organize it.
Q4: What do you want to realize through organizing IUF?
Lim: I wish to see the realization of diverse values happening in the university. We are going to make all sharing important and appreciated. We hope the TUT students can understand the importance and benefits of multicultural environment, broaden their international understanding and view, and eventually help them to apply them in their student life while studying in TUT and give a positive impact in their future career. Also, we believe this platform of exchanging ideas from people of different backgrounds is very important to motivate and give new inspiration to them.
Q 5: How was the first event?
Lim: The first International Understanding Forum of the Toyohashi University of Technology was successfully held on 13 June 2018 by the committee of IUF2018. Four speakers with diverse backgrounds delivered their presentations based on the theme, "Discover Japan, from Inside and Outside". Our speakers, Mr. Ryan, Minset, Mizoguchi, and Armando gave wonderful presentations with their stories, encounters, and valuable messages which we believe have broadened views and understanding of the audiences and inspired them in many ways. Approximately 40 participants including TUT students, staffs and exchange students from New York University participated in the session. After each presentation, they were given a chance to ask questions and express their opinions and feelings towards the presentations. It was a good start!
Q6: How do you think after the first event?
Lim: It was held more successfully than we expected. Thanks to all speakers who gave their impressive presentations based on the theme and it enabled us to wrap up. After the event, we got a number of positive and grateful feedbacks from the floor. We are all very glad to know that the audience gained something from the event as it is the core reason we came up with this idea. Although it was a little disorganized because of lack of experience, we believe it was a good start and we will make it better in the next session.
Kanata: I felt that it was the place the audience and speakers can change their opinions. I want to improve this event, but it was enough quality as a first event.
Chinatsu: I worried how many people would join the event before it started. But around 40 people, which we didn't expect, came to join and I felt relieved. I'm sorry for my poor time management, but thanks to great presentations given by amazing presenters, active Q & A, and the support given by IUF members, the 1st event was really marvellous. I'm tremendously grateful to all.
Shogo: Firstly I was really glad to see more many people than I thought, that was the first time though. I had joined as a host for that. That was tough work to talk in front of them without any script but I felt it would be in my best interest. We are going to carry out hundreds more such events starting from now, and I hope there will be more Japanese students in the audience.
Q7: Please express your enthusiasm towards the coming event.
Lim: We will keep improving and making our event better because we know we are doing something meaningful. Of course, we hope to involve more people on both sharing and hearing sides. Kanata: In this event, the advertisement was not enough. I want to do more promotion such as what the speaker will talk about. In addition, I want to make a place that everyone can easily ask questions.
Chinatsu: I could find my own and event's improvements through the 1st event. I will make use of this experience and I'll try to make next event better! Shogo: At the second IUF, I will prepare to make it livelier than the first.
IUF, founded by four enthusiastic students, will continue to hold events on a monthly basis with various themes. We look forward to seeing many more IUF hosted events and encourage everyone to promote and support their future activities to the benefit of students, staff, and the wider community.
Global Technology Architects Course (GAC)
GAC is designed for international and Japanese students who desire international careers. GAC offers a curriculum that develops the following skills: Global communication skills, Problem solving skills within diverse value sets, Globally applicable interpersonal skills. GAC students live in the "TUT Global House", a unique shared-house style of student accommodation where both international and Japanese students live together.
- International Exchange Club (TUT CALL)
TUT CALL is a club for international students and Japanese students to interact, holding parties and movie watching sessions etc. with the motto "Language does not matter!! Communicate with your heart!!"