Readers' Contribution

The university is not the only thing in Waseda
-Four years of enjoying this area-

Tomohiro Yoshizaki
4th-year student at the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences


Interested in “building a community,” I came to Waseda. Of course, this university has a lot of classes or seminars that focus on “building a community,” such as those on city planning and the activation of a local community, but among them I chose a “club” working on “building a community.” A major reason is that I wanted to feel the formation of a community at first hand, not just think about it in my head. After I started the activity, the difficulty and the depth of it amazed me. Though the phrases “building a community” or “activation of a local community” sound nice, there are many who have trouble answering when it comes to thinking in detail about what we should do. As those phrases sound noble by themselves, we rarely try to think about what they are and how we could put them into practice.

What I learned through my four years of this activity is quite simple. “What can I do for the local community?” Thinking that way is the first step toward starting to build a community. For instance, we take part as helpers in the local summer festival to arouse people’s enthusiasm. We join a circle of middle-aged men and shoulder a portable shrine wearing the same ‘happi’ coat as those middle-aged men are wearing. On top of that, we put what we want to do for this community into practice. I think this is the real thrill for students of building a community. For me, a student, “building a community” is not a job. While thinking about what benefits the community, I want to realize my dream or what I want to do?I felt that thinking that way strongly supports the activity. Motivation and enthusiasm increase all the more when we combine these two factors?what we can do for the local community, and how to realize our dreams. As a result, they develop into great energy and enhance the quality of the activity, and that level of enthusiasm makes it easy for us to win the support of the local community.

However, we must remember that the Waseda area is special in that local people are very close to the students. I guess there are many people who at first do not listen to the stories of a student from a different place. In that sense, Waseda is a generous area. Residents and storekeepers are very kind to Waseda students, because this town has lived together with students for many decades. Waseda has lots of people who accept the various values of students?as well as sometimes scolding us severely! Building a community is profound from that point of view as well.

There is no end to this activity, no matter how thoroughly we try to do it, and we cannot get quick results, whether good or bad. That is why local people find it interesting here, and why they also sometimes reject our plan. A fascinating area where the local people make friends with students without thinking only about their own businesses?Waseda has that kind of atmosphere. I think this closeness between students and the local community functions very well as a factor that prevents the community from withering.

I will be starting work next April. I am truly sorry to be leaving Waseda, but what I experienced through this club activity has given me solid confidence and shines a bright light into my future. I cannot be too thankful.

At a regular festival of the Mizuinari Shrine near Waseda University, which took place last summer.
(The person on the far left of the front row is the writer.)


From 2009 January 17th Issue