Joon Young Moon
Peter (Siyuan) Chai
Fourth-year student in the Economics major
English-based Degree Program
We want to talk about our personal experience in creating and leading the SPSE-EDP Student Council and share our thoughts about student interactions and the Waseda culture. To start with, as English-oriented international students, we felt that we probably needed some kind of student group to voice our ideas to the school office. Additionally, some non-Japanese-speaking EDP students faced the language barrier challenge: it was sometimes a little difficult for them to fully enjoy university events and circles at Waseda.
Thus, we were motivated to make the existing student council happen as an official circle registered at SPSE in 2019. As the founding members, our major goal was to help to incorporate EDP students into the Waseda community: We introduced the WasedaTime website for the students’ course registration, gathered them to tour around the Waseda Campus and Takadanobaba areas, and guided them to participate in two main traditional events of Waseda which are Waseda-sai (早稲田祭) and Sokei-sen (早慶戦).
Through watching the various Waseda circles’ performances and cheering for the Waseda sports teams, we could see that many international students at EDP were so excited to experience and immerse themselves in the unique Waseda culture. We learned that Waseda is much more than just an academic environment; it can also be an important center for self-expression and social life. We understood that the Waseda culture is really about passion, collaboration, and life-long friendships.
Organizing Online Activities
Thereafter, delighted by the students’ positive reactions, we planned further offline events in 2020 but failed to implement them due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our initiatives to connect the students did not stop. We prepared what we could actually do in the online format. We thought that probably the September-entry freshmen cohort were very much challenged as they may not be able to engage in their campus lives from the beginning. Therefore, we believed that we could make the student council a platform for interactions and information sharing so that the students would not feel disappointed about not having the chance to meet each other in person.
We planned some online events so that the freshmen could indirectly experience the Waseda culture. Starting from our Orientation Presentation at the Freshmen’ s Welcoming Party organized by the school office, our new members have undertaken several projects. We organized the SPSE-EDP Student Council Waseda Academic Introduction which explained academic affairs and resources at Waseda and arranged regular Sempai-Kohai Q&A Sessions to exchange academic and career advice. Moreover, we activated our Facebook and Instagram homepages to show up-to-date event and circle recruitment information at Waseda and to post columns written by the students themselves about their favorite courses and professors at EDP.
Passing on Waseda Culture
As a “public good”, establishing a community for students to bond during the COVID-19 crisis is not easy as it involves much planning and coordination. However, we have found it meaningful to offer help to international students at EDP within our power. By introducing Waseda’s campus life to new students, we ourselves have more profoundly understood the history and culture of Waseda. Besides, we have made friends inside EDP who have always been mentally supporting our personal lives. We share our love for Waseda and SPSE and we share our interests in a range of economics and political science topics. We are looking forward to meeting each other in person and enjoying the fascinating campus events one day in the future!