Since entering October, I have had two opportunities to speak to high school students. The message of my talks was the same as always, “the world is changing and it is your choice.”
The first was a lecture to high school students aiming to enter the University of Tokyo, organized by an elite cram school. Around one hundred students attended, under the unfortunate circumstances of a typhoon approaching. Most were students in their first and second years of high school. After a lecture of about ninety minutes, the students got into groups and discussed their goals for the next ten years and what they would need to be doing in two years time in order to achieve these long-term goals. They summarized and presented their discussions and then evaluated other groups’ presentations.
The next session was at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo, where the “Special Friday Seminar for High School Students” is held twice a month. It was the three hundredth seminar and I was invited to be the speaker at this milestone event. Around eighty students participated as well as many of their families and people from the general public. My speech at last year’s entrance ceremony at the University of Tokyo was distributed to the audience.
Lately, I have been showing a brief scene from the movie, ‘The Matrix’, at such lectures. My message there is to question authority, to question norms.
Many of the students who participated stated that this seminar was different from all of the past seminars at the University of Tokyo. Many commented that their thoughts towards society changed and that although the same Matrix clip was shown at the beginning and the end of my speech, one student wrote he perceived different message. This gave me the impression that these young people were somehow deprived of something.
It is very fun to interact with young people, for in the future they will be the Japanese who will live and pursue their carer in this rapidly changing world.
After the lecture, a group of foreign undergraduate students to Tokyo University’s PEAK program came together and there was a small reception. The foreign professors also came and we had a good time together. This was made possible thanks to Prof Ryoichi Matsuda, who is in charge of PEAK.
PEAK has many challenges ahead of it but I sincerely hope that it will be able to respond to the needs of the fereign students and continue to develop and grow and impact true internationalization of the education of the University of Tokyo.