Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
ICC Student Staff Leader 2019/6 – 2021/1
My first interaction with the ICC actually happened when I was attending the orientation for new international students. After formalities such as a talk from the police, etc., I listened to the presentation given by two ICC Student Staff Leaders about all the things the ICC does. Of course, I never actually imagined I would become one of them myself, just that I did not have many friends in Tokyo and wanted to meet new people. The first ICC-run programme that I joined was the Language and Culture Exchange, whereby students are matched together in pairs or threes for the purpose of language exchange and making friends. I had just entered Waseda after a stint in Korea so I was lucky to be matched with two South Korean students. Shortly afterwards, I noticed the recruitment posters around campus for the ICC. Actually, I did not really think I had a chance considering my Japanese language skills had become rusty due to a lack of practice. However, I applied anyway and, somehow, I was accepted!
The first two months were a huge adjustment period, firstly, because everything was conducted in a foreign language. Secondly, I had no experience or knowledge on howto even write a business email in Japanese. It was a huge challenge, and sometimes I would even look up words from emails or documents that I did not know. My largest hurdle was preparing my own event, ‘Scottish Night’. Aside from the pressure of representing my country, I also had to contact external organisations, arrange meetings and consult with them about the event programme. Although at times I struggled, I was guided every step of the way by a full-time staff member, and from this, I eventually learnt how to create business emails, make meeting notes and call the groups and societies that I was going to work with, all on my own.
Recently, I planned and pulled off my last event as an ICC student staff member, ‘teamLab – Creating a Borderless World’. Sadly, we were unable to hold it in-person due to the pandemic, but even after shifting the event to an online format, I could still use the skills that I had acquired at the ICC such as managing deadlines and reaching out to companies. The event contained lots of videos, photos and other kinds of media, so I was extremely happy that it wasn’t a typical talk session.
Working at the ICC takes a lot of time and effort, make no mistake, especially when you also have classes and homework. However, my time at the Centre has proven invaluable as I shift from being a student to a worker in the real world. The ICC pushes you to develop your leadership skills, and not simply leading a team when it comes to hosting an event or working on a project, but also looking for ways to improve the student experience or how to improve productivity within the office. Furthermore, there are times when you may have four or five events happening over two weeks. In that case, you must keep track of progress, tasks and ensure everything is finished to a high standard. This organising skill will also help you when you enter the final years of university, go on to further education or enter the workforce.
In essence, do not think of working at the ICC as a normal part-time job that nets you some pocket money. It is not. Think of it more as long-term internship that will give you the skills to succeed in the future, and the chance to develop skills working with people, build problem-solving skills and, of course, become a leader. I would not trade my time at the ICC for anything. I met so many wonderful students who joined our events, made friends and had a great time at Waseda, whether regular or exchange students. On the flip side, I had the chance to work alongside bright and meticulous co-workers day-in-day-out, learning a lot from them in the process. Of course, a student staff leader’s time is largely based at the office, but I could also enjoy my free time with other staff members by going to restaurants together, bowling or house parties, or even to Fuji Q Highland! Work is crucial, but play is also important! I would not hesitate in recommending the ICC to anyone with a global mindset and a desire to bridge the gap between Japanese and international students.