Hello everyone, this is C.H., organizer of the Intergenerational Café. Originally, this event that brings Waseda alumni and students together should have been held in person in June. However, the COVID-19 situation caught us off guard and we decided to hold it online for the sake of everyone’s safety. It was a pleasure to have our Waseda alumni give advice and share their opinions with current students.
The story behind the event
When I was studying in Canada, I got the opportunity to welcome a group of international students and introduce my university. Having a large senior population in the city where I studied in, I thought the best way to introduce the place is to connect the local elderly with the students. Coming across the movie “The Bucket List”, I found that the crossing point of the two groups is “time”. One of my takes on the movie is that our regrets often come when we did not cherish the present; thus, the way we spend our time is a critical topic that we should all think about. Thankfully, the event was a huge success and people learned a lot. Having the opportunity to study in Japan, I thought I would bring the idea to Waseda students as well. From there, I joined ICC and planned this event since last year.
The event was originally going to be held in Okuma Garden House where participants can interact with one another and actually create a list together of the things they would like to do in the future. However, considering all the seniors joining us during this sensitive time, we decided to host it online. The first most challenging thing was the communication with 4-5 Waseda alumni associations. In order to invite enough alumni to share their opinions with the students, we were constantly emailing the event information to the alumni and getting opinions from them to see if it was feasible to host the event online. Luckily, all the alumni were really nice and willing to help. I truly appreciate all of their time and effort for this event; without their support, this event could not have happened. The second challenge we faced was selecting the best video platform to use for this themed café event. To maximize the participants’ experience, the easiness to navigate of the platform was our number one priority. After all the trial-and-error and working with potential service providers, we finally decided to use Zoom for this event.
The day of the event
Right before the event, I was really nervous about how to make sure that all alumni feel comfortable speaking with the members and how I can match the people who may relate on similar topics. Thanks to my team’s encouragement and support, I could feel more at ease and share my thoughts on the subject. I was also able to use two online survey-taking tools to get participants’ thoughts on their life goals. It was really heartwarming to see all the comments from the participants; I can really tell that they thought the questions through and took something out of the event (for the survey results, please see our Instagram account). Overall, the event was a lot of fun and listening to others’ life stories was definitely eye-opening. To whoever is reading this report, I would also like to share with you the question that I asked the participants: “If today were the last day of your life, what message would you like the world to know?” What do you think?
Hosting the same type of event, in person and online, in Japan and Canada, was quite an amazing journey for me. I realized that the way alumni and students interact is really different. Students in Japan tend ask a lot of questions to the alumni and alumni are always open to share their experiences; while in Canada, alumni like to ask the students questions in order to prompt them to think about their future. Each way of interacting created a different type of spark. Even though hosting my first event online was quite challenging and the time was too short for all to share their experiences, I still learned a lot from my team, sempai, and student participants. Thank you everyone for this opportunity!