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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul.)


International Student Dormitory: Cultivating global leaders

Recently, the educational function of student dormitories is being reevaluated. In conjunction with the completion of the Tanashi Student Dormitory in 2008, Waseda University has renewed the management of student dormitories. As part of student support services provided by our university, we have focused on programs which promote student growth and which encourage interaction between Japanese and foreign students. Moreover, a student dormitory which will house approximately 900 Japanese and foreign students is currently being constructed in Nakano Ward. This article explores the future of student dormitories.

Part of student support services: RA system and SI Program

In conjunction with the completion of Tanashi Student Dormitory in 2008, Waseda University has renewed its operation of student dormitories. Waseda has positioned dormitories as a part of student support services provided by our university and has established an RA system.
Waseda also focuses on the Social Intelligence (SI) Program and on interaction between dormitory students.

Making friends at dormitory events

Julian yves Jouini
(Born in Switzerland; 1st year student at the School of International Liberal Studies)

I was worried about language barriers in terms of living alone in Japan after entering university. Therefore, I decided to enter a student dormitory with a housemaster or RA. Other dormitory students are the same age as me, making for a pleasant living environment. Through the international diversity section of the Social Intelligence (SI) Program, I was able to talk with Japanese students and learn about aspects of Japanese thought which I hadn't yet noticed. I was able to make many friends and acquaintances through dormitory events such as cherry blossom viewing parties, something that doesn't exist in my native Switzerland.

Sports tournaments
I made more friends through events such as sports!

Tanabata Party
An event unique to Japan! Every day, I consulted my friends about what color yukata I should wear!

BBQ party to welcome new dormitory students

SI Program. Julian is on the far right.

The depth of feeling is evident. Crying tears of gratitude towards RAs at the graduation ceremony.

Every year, a graduation ceremony is held at Tanashi Student Dormitory in early February. In addition to graduating students, the ceremony is attended by all dormitory students, as well as RAs, the housemaster, and university faculty/staff. During the ceremony, attendees reflect upon the year spent together with graduating dormitory students. Awards are also presented to dormitory students who contributed to that year's SI Program. Also, graduating RAs are presented with a certificate of gratitude.

RA (Resident Assistant) System

RAs (Residence Assistants) are student volunteer staff (older students) that live in dormitories and support the dormitory life of foreign and Japanese students who are living away from their parents. RAs are recruited and trained by the university to provide dormitory students with the dependable presence of an older student.

POINT. 1▶ A good advisor to dormitory students

If dormitory students have a problem with dormitory life, RAs provide advice based on their own experience.

POINT. 2 ▶ Support the start-up of life for foreign students

RAs support foreign students who have just arrived in Japan by handling complicated procedures such as applying for an Alien Registration Card and providing information such as how to use public transportation. RAs hold events to encourage interaction with Japanese students.

POINT. 3 ▶ Support for student life

In addition to leading the formation of a community through events such as floor meetings, RAs plan events such as BBQ parties and Tanabata parties.

POINT. 4 ▶ Leading the Social Intelligence (SI) Program (Tanashi Student Dormitory only)

RAs are older students who have experienced seminars and job-search activities. As such, they serve as a role model for the near future of younger students.

RA Training: RA training is held biannually in March and September

Part 1: Overall Training

An opportunity to consider the role of RAs and to develop awareness as an RA selected by Waseda University. Also, an opportunity to discover optimal response and reform measures by sharing information and exchanging opinions with RAs from other dormitories. Specifically, RAs discuss cases in which they were unsure how to respond and questions which arise during everyday life in the dormitory.

Part 2: Training by Dormitory

In this training, RAs confirm contact systems and cooperation methods with our university, shares examples of successful and unsuccessful RA activities, review support methods such as accepting new dormitory students and applying for the Alien Registration Cards of foreign students, and discuss other issues with supervisory staff.

Flow of Overall Training (Example from March 2012)

Training (group work) on themes such as "ability to construct interpersonal relationships."

Presentations based on RA activities
Each RA gives a 10 to 15 minutes presentation on themes which have been submitted in advance. Possible themes include "tips for accepting new dormitory students," "response to trouble within the dormitory," "successful/unsuccessful examples of dormitory events," "cross-cultural understanding in dormitories," etc. By giving each participating RA the opportunity to speak, RAs are able to conduct mutual evaluation, work together, and become familiar with each other's personality.

Announcement of goals by RAs
Based on knowledge gained and realizations made during training, each RA announces his/her personal goals for the next 6 months. Examples include realizing one's vision of the ideal RA, achieving goals and overcoming problems.

RA's Voice
Dormitory students remind me of how fun university life really is!

Mr. Wang Xin Tu
(from Shizuoka Prefecture, 1st year student at the Graduate School of Commerce; 3 years of RA experience)

I was born in China. When I came to Japan as a child, I had difficulty adjusting to the different culture and customs. As a result, I realize that foreign students just arriving in Japan require support and therefore decided to become an RA.

RAs can learn many things from younger students. Personally, I tend to become totally engrossed in studying for my Master's Degree. However, I am reminded of how much fun Waseda University is when I interact with younger students in the shared kitchen space. Younger students are filled with expectations and hope towards our university. I also think that younger students can lead a more fulfilling university life when there is an older student nearby to serve as a role model.

You need tolerance and courage to be an RA. Sometimes, you have to put your private life on the back-burner and lead the approximately 40 students who live on a single floor. RAs have to calm down foreign students who are surprised by earthquakes in the middle of the night, to ensure the safety of dormitory students during events, to offer advice on seminars and studying abroad, and to sometimes even give romantic advice. Nothing makes me happier than to see the dormitory atmosphere improving when I make such efforts. When I left the dormitory temporarily in order to study overseas, the younger students kept asking me to promise to come back. I was touched because I found that my compassion for the younger students was conveyed and I realized the strength in bonds of friendship and companionship.

I want to convey the fun of earnest effort!

Mr. Kazunari Ishii
(from Tokyo, 4th year student at the School of Culture, Media and Society; 2 years of RA experience)

Scene from the 100-kilometer hike

I wanted to repay the people who helped when I participated in a short-term foreign study program in America. Since I was unable to repay them directly, I decided to support foreign students coming to Japan and therefore applied to become an RA. University life is full of fun events, including trips and drinking parties. However, nothing can compare to the sense of fulfillment of accomplishing something through earnest effort. Therefore, I proposed participating in the 100-kilometer hike and I walked together with about 40 dormitory students from various countries. Walking 100 kilometers in two days is very strenuous and tough, and I felt like giving up. When I saw the goal, I started crying together with a Korean student who had walked with me. Through this 100 kilometer challenge, I made friends who I can truly believe in. For my friends, this earnest effort and accomplishments with friends in Japan will surely be a lifelong memory.

Through RA activities, I acquired leadership ability to create something new and recruit others. Moreover, communal living taught me the importance of obeying social rules and considering the feelings of others. Just like RAs before me gave priority to dormitory students, I hope to pass on such feelings to younger students.

Social Intelligence (SI) Program

Business Communication

Faculty Visit

The SI Program is unique program for dormitories at Waseda University. The program seeks to cultivate the fundamental ability and knowledge required as a working member of society, as well as to develop language ability for performing on a global scale. The program offers a variety of courses including "Self-Produce Program" and "Career Seminar" for acquiring fundamental abilities as a working member of society, "Faculty Visit" for developing a broad perspective, and "Business Communication" and "International Diversity" for cultivating the ability to think and discuss in English. Language-related courses are taught by native instructors. The courses are held within the dormitory, making it easy to participate. Language courses are popular even among students who lack students in their language ability.

Participation in the SI Program has already been made mandatory at Tanashi Student Dormitory. Courses are held from 7:00pm to 8:30pm from Monday to Friday during class terms. Dormitory students participate once per week.

Student Voice
Participating in the "Self-Produce Program"
The SI Program is a chance to discover your core

Ms. Moeko Osaki (2nd from left in photograph)
(from Saitama Prefecture, 2nd year student at the School of Human Sciences)

"What kind of person do I want to become?" The Self-Produce Program, part of the SI Program, provides hints to finding the answer to this question. In the program, group work is performed with students from different countries, different undergraduate schools, and different academic years. While puzzling over the problem assigned to our group, there were many times when I couldn't express my opinion or I felt that my ideas were insignificant and odd. However, instead of simply labeling my ideas as "bad," I immediately thought about how I could express myself honestly and accurately. I suppose that this is the first step to becoming a global professional. By utilizing this experience, I hope to understand myself and become a person who values other people's opinions.