Tohoku University welcomed 22 new international undergraduates to the Future Global Leadership (FGL) programme in an online ceremony on September 29.
The students, representing 10 countries, are enrolled in one of the programme's three courses taught entirely in English - advanced molecular chemistry (AMC), applied marine biology (AMB) and international mechanical and aerospace engineering (IMAC-U). They will also have the opportunity to take classes with local Japanese students outside their chosen course. This co-learning environment is aimed at encouraging cross-cultural interaction and exposure.
Although the COVID-19 infection rate has been relatively low in Sendai, there are still many international travel restrictions in place. So the new FGL students will begin their courses online from their home countries, and make their way to Sendai only when it is safe for them to travel.
In his welcome speech, Executive Vice President for Education and Student Support Hirotsugu Takizawa thanked the students for their commitment to international exchange even during these challenging times. He added that it is increasingly important for students to have a broad foundation of knowledge and a global mindset.
"You get this by interacting with students gathered from around the world and learning together in a way that transcends academic boundaries," he said. "Tohoku University is constantly working to make our campuses even more international, and the FGL Courses, now in their 11th year, are an important part of this."
Three of the new FGL students also gave speeches on behalf of the class.
"Despite us coming from three different courses, I hope that we can be a family, or at least a community of international students, under the FGL programme," said Steven William (AMC, Indonesia). "But let's not limit our social circle there. I also hope to interact and socialize with Japanese students, perhaps through club or circle activities."
Ruchir Rawat (IMAC-U, India) spoke of how his visit to Japan two years ago influenced his decision to apply to the programme. "The cities were filled with the latest technology that made everyday life easier for people," he said. "There can be nothing better for a science aspirant (like me), than to be surrounded by the best technology of his time."
Yaxin Zhang (AMB, China), said she was inspired to be more socially active by Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for activism when she was only 17.
"I wondered, how can a girl who fights for the rights of other girls while risking her life, be about the same age as me?" she said, adding that Malala's actions showed her that "changing the world might sound ambitious, but it is indeed possible." Zhang is on the AMB course hoping to make a difference to the marine ecosystem and environment.
To prepare for the programme, the FGL students attended three months of pre-enrollment activities online during the summer, such as Japanese language lessons and special assignments to review their knowledge of STEM subjects. They also went through an orientation session to learn how to access Tohoku University's lectures and campus services online.
FGL alumni and other student volunteers will continue to be on hand to help the new students settle in, by sharing their experiences on the programme and answering questions about life on campus and in Sendai.
Future Global Leadership Office
Tohoku University Student Exchange Division
Tel: +81 22 795 3242