CHEN, Yuhan (Hanna)
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
ICC Student Staff Leader:
November 2019 – March 2021
My journey in Waseda started with ICC and now it also ends with ICC. It all started when I was still a business exchange student from Canada, when everything in Japan was new to me. In order to get used to the environment and make friends, I registered for at least ten language and culture exchange events. Among the event organizers, ICC was a whole new idea to me as I never thought a university would have an official office that organizes all types of events for local and international students to bond. I still remember my orientation day where I met life-long friends at a ICC welcoming event. We were digging through the posters and noting in our calendars the events that we found interesting. As the semester started, we would go to the events or even just simply sit in the lounge to chill. The proudest thing that I have done is definitely organizing an eight-person Fuji-san sightseeing group by just spending time at the lounge. If it were not for ICC, I would not have met so many great people. If it were not for ICC, I would not have come across the thought of coming back to Japan for my master’s degree.
When I decided to return, I applied again to GSAPS and I thought to bring similar experiences to other students at Waseda. The day when I officially started to work in ICC as an SSL, I found it really interesting to see many familiar faces whom I bugged with questions. What’s more, I got to understand the challenges and hard work it takes to make one event happen. At first, I attended a lot of events by other SSL senpai organizers as a supporter. Slowly, I got to organize my own events that I wished I had the chance to attend when I was still an exchange student. By going to meetings with the speakers and writing business emails to different parties, I learned how to behave professionally in a Japanese workplace. I also got to work on my Japanese communication skills when I stumbled on ways to communicate with Japanese staff and participants. It was not all rainbows and unicorns: from time to time I would misunderstand what people meant, accidentally send a wrong email, or even use very funny Japanese. However, though I would still feel very guilty, I was given the chance to make it right with the guidance of full-time staff and assistance of other SSLs. ICC become more than just a place to make connections, but also a place that allows me prepare myself to work in Japan.
I would say that the turning point of my SSL journey was the COVID-19 outbreak; The two events I organized were forced to be held online. From apologizing to speakers and rescheduling the event, to considering web-meeting tools for the event, everything needed to be re-organized. Without face-to-face contact with the students, it become harder to deliver our mission to the students. We realized that there was a need for digitalizing documents and promotions so we started to form teams in order to continue creating an engaging campus. Projects including having Google calendar widget on the ICC website, interactive promotional campaigns on SNS, or even working on a better reporting system within ICC staff, all of them gave me the opportunity to think outside the box. For the purpose of letting more students know about ICC without in-person orientations and of creating fun events through online meeting tools, I got to brainstorm and teamwork more with full-time staff and SSLs. The coronavirus surely has hit us hard but I guess it also brought me closer with the people I work with in ICC.
Now that I am graduating from ICC, there are still so many things that I want to do. I want to see how effective the promotional tools are; I want to work with other on-and off-campus affiliations to promote our events better. It is quite sentimental as I write this report; however, I am sure the new SSLs will continue to make students’ experiences more diverse and fun. Lastly, to quote what my friends and I talked about one day at the ICC lounge, “everyone’s life is like a song playlist”. I guess ICC’s goal is to provide a space for you to add different songs to your school playlist. For those who are reading this little reflection of mine, I hope you get to create your one-and-only playlist with ICC.