AVID students visit Waseda University

Red Devil program aims to encourage students to achieve success

 Story and photos by Greg Mitchell FLEACT,Yokosuka, Public Affairs

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Students from Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka had the rare opportunity to visit the campus of Waseda University, one of Japans most prestigious colleges, as a part of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) school program aimed at introducing students to campus lifestyles in Japan, March 20.

AVID is a college-readiness system that is designed to help students who are in the academic middle prepare for and succeed in colleges and universities.Located in Shinjuku, Japan, Waseda was the second private university to be in the country, (first was Keio), in 1882 as the Tōkyō Senmon Gakkō by founder Ōkuma Shigenobu. In 1902, the school was renamed Waseda University, after Okuma’s hometown village.

Waseda alumni include seven former prime ministers, 2006 Winter Olympic gold medal figure skater Shizuka Arakawa and prominent businessmen from various companies, including Lee Byung-chul, the founder of Samsung, and Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing and Uniqlo.

Along with various traditional martial arts, from Karate to Judo and Kendo, sports teams from Waseda have been consistent winners, particularly in baseball and even in American football. Waseda is one of the original first three colleges to play American football in Japan, the other two being Meiji and Rikkyo.

“This school is historically kind of a rich and robust community,” said Angela Lewis, AVID teacher, coordinator and Biology teacher at Kinnick. “There are more than 50,000 students (attending Waseda) and I was very impressed with both their core curriculum and the overall beauty of the campus.”

Of the 39 students in attendance, 11 were English as a Second Language (ESL) students. All were introduced to the various elements of the school campus, from the Central Library which contains 2.5 million books, to the entrance of the seven-story high clock tower which stands next to the Okuma Auditorium.

The Auditorium opened October 20, 1927, approximately about five years behind schedule, after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake.Waseda sophomore Rina Kawakami served as one of the four tour guides and viewed it as an honor to introduce high school students to her campus.

“There are two types of students; the first are the ones’ who want to get into Waseda,” said Kawakami.“For these students, I really encourage them to study hard to try to get into Waseda. But at the same time,

I try to tell them to enjoy their high school life, because it is only three years (four years in the U.S.) and it is only once in a lifetime. For students that are kind of wondering if they will take the exam for Waseda – or wherever they choose to go – I just want to tell them positive things and share my own student-life experiences, while encouraging them to make the right choice for themselves.”

Kawakami said she had no major yet but has narrowed her selections down to three areas; French Language, French Literature or Political Science.For students in attendance, the chance to see such a prestigious campus was viewed in a positive sense.

“I really liked this school and I thought the campus was really pretty,” said senior Elisha Dareing. “I liked how you different buildings were designated for specific subjects. I have already committed myself to attending Washington St. University but I have been drawn to this campus; the atmosphere here seems so much like there [Washington St.]; I think if I had known about this, I would have applied.”

Upon completion of the tour, the students stopped one final time to pose for a group photograph in front of the Okuma Auditorium prior to departure.

“I hope that they got to see how international universities are an intregal part of their education, whether they’re in Japan or the United States, and that they have every opportunity to go to a school like this,” said Lewis. “They just have to continue to push themselves to work hard.”

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