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Volunteers connecting the university and society

An opportunity for studying the realities of society

Since its founding in 2002, the Waseda University Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC) has fulfilled the role of advancing the social contributions of Waseda University, and of supporting the studying and actions of students. In addition to conveying the current activities of WAVOC, this article examines what can be done to encourage further development in the future.

Part.1 - Interview

WAVOC provides a system for students to experience real society

Mr. Eiichiro Nojima: Professor in Faculty of Human Sciences, Waseda University Vice-President and WAVOC Director.

An opportunity to study the realities of society and develop individual human strengths

WAVOC was found in April of 2002. Although the primary missions of a university are education and research, Waseda considers social contribution to be another vital theme requiring action, and WAVOC was founded with our university President serving as director. Nowadays, it is no longer rare for a volunteer center to exist within a university, but at the time WAVOC was truly a groundbreaking project. The main function of most university volunteer centers is to match people who wish to volunteer with people who are seeking volunteers. However, since our beginning, WAVOC has focused on using the two pillars of projects and courses to develop professionals who support social contribution.

A problem of modern education is that the concepts studied at university and the skills needed to perform in actual society do not necessarily match. During volunteer activities, students confirm and apply through actual practice what they have learned in an academic environment. At the same time, students cooperate with a variety of partners, propose actions plans, and perform team management. These activities will develop individual human strength and create the aptitude for performing in society. In actuality, students are the main elements of WAVOC projects. Three assistant professors and an accompanying office staff provide support for the students, encouraging them to move forward or having them slow down and reflect as necessary.

Universities are often ridiculed as to an ivory tower, but volunteer activities provide an opportunity to come into contact with the realities of society. From an educational perspective, WAVOC can be described as a system to send students into authentic fields.

Opportunities provided by WAVOC

Scene from the Volunteer Fair

Enroll in a volunteer-related course and experience actual society
WAVOC provides an open course for enrollment by any Waseda student.

Participate in volunteer projects and connect with many people
WAVOC operates over 30 domestic and international volunteer projects in a variety of fields including environment and education. Students fulfill the main roles in these projects. Participation in projects is possible for anyone over the age of 18, even if that person is not a Waseda student.

Participate in other programs
In addition to events planned and operated by students, WAVOC also has a large number of joint programs with corporations and local governments.

揃Volunteer Fair (once each spring and autumn)
WAVOC projects are assembled and a variety of elaborate plans are developed during each fair. The next Volunteer Fair will be held on April 24 (Friday), 2009.
揃Environmental Volunteer School (as occasion demands)
Environmental volunteer activities and workshops are held. One example is the "Win Nissan" project, held in cooperation with Nissan Motor Corporation.

Collect volunteer-related information
A pamphlet that summarizes project results is created by WAVOC-affiliated instructors and the pamphlet is distributed free of charge. Also, student staff with a wealth of volunteer experience provide consultation regarding volunteer issues.

Seeking positioning as an educational institution

In the WAVOC Project, the university supports the proactive activities of students. Participation is possible for anyone over the age of 18, even if that person is not a Waseda student.

Recently, a symposium was held in which students themselves spoke regarding the growth that they experienced by taking part in the courses and projects provided by our center. This symposium had an extremely significant meaning for confirming the direction of WAVOC in the future. In the future, the next step is to position WAVOC courses as accredited required or elective courses. Eventually, I would like to create a system that enables students to select the theme study of "Volunteer Sciences" as an academic minor, and to expand the educational work of WAVOC.

When reflecting upon the 7 years which have passed since the establishment of WAVOC, I feel that social approval for the activities of our center can be seen in our selection as a Special GP (Good Practice) program by the MEXT in 2005, as well as in the grants received from various foundations. This social approval is also evident in the contributions that we have received from individual contributors and corporations. However, at the same time, such acquirement of funds from external entities and obtainment of outstanding personnel will be become more necessary in the future. In order to fulfill these needs, I feel that we must actively developing appealing programs. While resolving these kinds of issues, I hope to advance high-quality education that encourages the personal growth of students who are the treasure of our university.

WAVOC Lecture Courses
  • Volunteer Theory -Introduction & Basic Principles-
  • Volunteer Theory -Verbalization of Actual Experience-
  • Environment & Volunteer Activities
  • Global Health
  • International Development Assistance: Principles & Practice
  • Personal Expression Theory
  • International Exchange & Social Contribution
  • Community Theory - Introduction & Basic Principles -
Experienced-Based Academic Courses
  • Sustainable Lifestyle Theory
  • Field Study on Peace Building
  • Work Camp Theory -Practical Leader Development Lecture-
  • Work Camp Theory -Verbalization of Actual Experience-
  • Human Rights & Citizen Activities/Volunteering
  • International Cooperation for Conservation of Cambodia's Cultural Heritage & Community Development
  • Sustainable Society & the Role of Citizens
  • Development Issues of Southeast Asia & the Role of NGOs
  • Community Theory -Development & Practice-
WAVOC Project Examples
Project Name Activity Area
Environment Eco-Community Tanzania Domestic Tanzania
Project to Develop Overseas Volunteer Leaders (Borneo) Malaysia-Borneo Island
Project to Conserve the Natural Environment of the Yguazu Region Argentina
Takao Forest Development Uratakao Town, Hachioji City, Tokyo
Silviculture of Shiyui Forest Tanohata Village, Shimohei Country, Iwate Prefecture
Cultural Japan-Korea Future Project Korea, Thailand
Japan-Vietnam Student Exchange Project Vietnam
Island Exchange Project Hatoma Island and Iriomote Island, Okinawa Prefecture
Education Support for Construction of and Education at Schools in Laos Laos
Human End Domestic Violence Project Japan, Korea
Support for Issues of Hansen's Disease Japan, China
Agricultur Development of the Mountain Village Miyoshi & Hands-On Experience in Organic Agriculture Minamiboso City, Chiba Prefecture
Exchange Refugee Exchange Project Waseda University Student Union Building
Matsudai-Waseda Jonnobi Exchange Project Matsudai Region & Gamo Region, Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture
Sports Sports Volunteer Project Yamanashi Prefecture, Overseas
Fun Wrestling Camp for Families of Children with Down Syndrome and Autism Waseda
Other Atom Currency Waseda, Takadanobaba
Waseda Rescue (Disaster Relief Volunteer) Waseda
Rwanda Student Exchange Conference Waseda, Rwanda
Club for Conservation of the Sambor Prei Kuk Ruins & Village Development (Ju-Ju) Cambodia-Kampong Thom Province

Mr. Eiichiro Nojima: Professor in Faculty of Human Sciences, Waseda University Vice-President and WAVOC Director.

Graduate from the Waseda University School of Literature and Philosophy I in 1969. Obtained his Master's Degree (major in psychology) from the Waseda University Graduate School of Literature in 1971. Appointed as Associate Professor in the Waseda University School of Human Sciences in 1987 and as Professor in the Waseda University School of Human Sciences in 1992 before assuming his current position. Doctoral Degree in Human Sciences (Osaka University).