“Happiness and international students will come to the home of those who smile” -Ryosuke Sugio
“Happiness and international students will come
to the home of those who smile”
-representative of Kakehashi Ryosuke Sugio
It is often said that “If you throw a stone, it hits international students at University of Tsukuba.” Then, do you know how many international students there are at our university? When you look outside in the campus, you will see at least several international students, right?
According to university of Tsukuba, the number of international students at our university is 2,326. The total is 17,000, so 1/8 is international students here. Oh, I need to have a good control to hit international students by a stone (You cannot throw a stone to people). Calculating simply, if you make 100 friends, about 12 of them should be international students. How about you? How many international friends do you have?
However, there are not many Japanese students who have that many international friends. Now, I found a student group which is trying to be a BRIDGE between Japanese students & international students, named “Kakehashi” means a bridge in Japanese. I have been interviewing some student groups at university of Tsukuba these days. This time, I would like to introduce Kakehashi, so I interviewed Ryosuke, who is the leader of the group.
He is a 4th year student in the Department of Biological Resources Sciences.
What does Kakehashi do?
We try to connect both of international students and Japanese students. We introduce any activities which the members want to do, so we do not have a set activity. That would be a characteristic of Kakehashi, it is a flexible community which you can try anything. We have been doing three things this year. 1. Running of Buddy system, 2. Field trip with international friends, and 3. Holding an event which is called Campur.
Buddy system, we ask local students who are interested in interacting with international students to support them during their staying in Japan. For example, they support to move in, buy a bicycle, and introduce grocery stores or halal restaurants, etc. It is hard for exchange students to live in different country for the first week. It was same to me when I studied abroad. Kakehashi aims to make the Buddies be interested in studying abroad or international exchange. For the Field trip, we went to Ooarai, Nigata to ski, and Mt. Tsukuba this year!
You said you studied abroad. Where did you study abroad, Ryosuke?
I studied in Jakarta, Indonesia for one semester when I was in 2nd year. I found the buddy system at the university where I studied. The local students welcomed me at the airport, and they helped me buy SIM card. I was helped a lot! Yet, Tsukuba university does not have such a system especially a program I joined, and many international students seem to need some help. At the same time, many Japanese students are seeking chances to interact with them. That’s it!! I noticed a demand between them, so I made this community Kakehashi.
I think that exchange program can be completed when you support international students after you come back from studying abroad. I wanted to give back them what I got from my buddies in Indonesia through Kakehashi.
What kind of event is Campur?
Campur is a culture share event held every week. It is mainly run by international students. “Campur” means “Mix” in Bahasa Indonesia or Malay or Okinawa dialect. Campur can often be found in name of dish in those areas. I chose this word to mean that many people and cultures gather. In this event, a country introduces their culture through their games, dance, food, and quiz, etc. The host county changes every week and they make up this event to entertain the audience. I think it must be a good chance for the host country students to make an event by themselves. Of course anyone can join us for free. Please stop by next time!
The event sounds very diversity! What kind of people come to Campur?
Yes! Various people come from many countries. Actually this event used to be called “ASEAN Café” until two years ago. And the most participants were from South East Asia. That was fun too, but I would like to expand the participants to all the world, so I needed to change the name. Then we welcomed Latin America, France, Italy, and Egypt last year! 2/3 of the participants are international students, and 1/3 is Japanese students. I would like to invite more Japanese students, especially freshmen who are interested in studying abroad or international exchange.
Yes, but… It may take long time for people who do not have experience of international exchange to start going this kind of events, doesn’t it?
That is true. But Campur is a beginner’s luck. They will find it is very easy to talk with international students in Campur. First, there are many international students who cannot speak English well than you think. And many languages are used in this event. English is not the all. If you are smiling, you will have 20 friends, additionally if you say “Hi!”, you will get 40 friends, I promise haha. Even better, you can exchange information with the participants, so you can get advice about studying abroad and so on. The international students who come to this event get hungry for interaction with Japanese students! We are looking forward to seeing you in Campur next semester! (futher information will be shared on TWINS)
What is unique point of Kakehashi?
That is flexible! There are many students who want to hold some events with international student so if you want to make an event, you can find your supporters easily in Kakehashi. Why don’t you make it happen what you want with us! It can be any small events. Now, we are working together with GLOBAL COMMONS, which is an international exchange division of university of Tsukuba. And we are half-official and half-nonofficial, so we can consult with the university or do something by ourselves, and different event every semester. It's easy to get feedback from international students. After hearing from international students what was good, what was wrong, and what improvements and requests for the event, we use the feedback the next semester. I think this cycle is interesting.
I would like to run as many things by students as possible. Actually, if university runs, it takes time for some procedures… Students can make an event while university are taking the procedures if the event is nonofficial. Kakehashi aims to make places where all international students can live a life without trouble and interact with Japanese students!
Finally, please give a message to Japanese students who are interested in international exchange.
What kind of campus life do international students desire? Imagine when you are traveling abroad. You may speak to local people somehow or try local street food to enjoy the local atmosphere as possible. International students in university of Tsukuba must desire the same things! Many Japanese students are not good at speaking English, or they are shy. But international students may want to interact with such people! When I was studying in Indonesia, I felt that I could do interact with local people when I talked with them in my poor Indonesian language, rather than with those who were fluent in English.
You, who are not good at English and want to practice it, are the most welcome people in Kakehashi!
Our generation is in the midst of globalization. We are in an university which has diversity, and now you know an international organizations like this, so it's only good to go out one step. Let's go to Campur first. You will surely come across new values.
Here is Facebook of Kakehashi
Facebook of Campur: https://www.facebook.com/tsukuba.campur.5