From Monday, April 11 until Thursday, April 28, Global Supporters, a group that helps international students get involved in extracurricular activities (clubs and circles), connected international students with extracurricular activity groups at a welcome event held for new students at Sora-no Plaza on the OIC Campus.
Global Supporters is a group of student volunteers who belong to the College of Policy Science Student Council, the College of Policy Science's Peer Mentor Support Group*1 (PMSG), and the College of Global Liberal Arts Student Council who help international students in English-basis colleges and courses participate in extracurricular activities. The group began its activities, which transcend college boundaries, this spring.
*1: A group of student mentors for students in the Community and Regional Policy Studies (CRPS)*2 major in the College of Policy Science at Ritsumeikan University.
*2: A major in which students study policy science in English.
Until now, only a few extracurricular groups provided information in English, which posed a major obstacle for international students that wanted to participate in club activities. Therefore, Global Supporters set up a booth at the welcome event for new students to serve as a bridge between international students and extracurricular activity groups and to make it easier for international students to consult about and participate in club activities.
Global Supporters created posters, flyers, and other advertising materials in English and sent them to international students in advance via the social media accounts for each college. The booth was open every Monday and Thursday during the event period, and the student staff acted as interpreters and guides, introducing international students to extracurricular activity groups and helping them join clubs.
Many international students seeking information on extracurricular activities visited the booth and listened intently to the student staff. Many of these students immediately asked to observe the clubs in action, and more than 10 international students decided to join badminton, futsal, and other clubs. Even in those circles where few students are fluent in English, the international students were able to develop friendly ties with their domestic counterparts by using translation apps, and this led to a new level of interaction on campus.
Sayo Yamakawa (4th year, College of Policy Science), who belongs to the College of Policy Science Student Council, said, "Through this activity, we found that there are many student groups that welcome international students but have not been able to recruit them because they have not had a chance to connect with them and ask them to join their clubs. We hope to continue to creating connections in various ways and expand the circle of exchange among a wide array of students."
Global Supporters will continue to promote diversity and inclusion on campus by assisting international students who want to participate in extracurricular activities.
Comment from Sayo Yamakawa (4th year, College of Policy Science; member, College of Policy Science Student Council
Although we were not fully prepared, we feel that the booth was a great first step in our activities as Global Supporters. Some international students were happy to hear that they could visit the booths of various clubs to consult with them after learning about this event through our social media accounts. It was also a good opportunity to create new connections among students, as some of the domestic and international students who saw what we were doing said they wanted to work with us to support international students as members of Global Supporters. By running this booth, our desire to further expand the circle of student exchange beyond language and nationality has become even stronger. In the future, we will prepare for a broader range of activities by dividing up duties across teams, such as an event team and a translation team.
Comment from TRAN Khanh Linh, (2nd year, CRPS Major, College of Policy Science; PMSG member, College of Policy Science)
When I was gathering information on extracurricular activities through social media as a first-year student, I felt there was a high hurdle to participation because the information was almost always only available in Japanese. In addition, as I was also mentoring international dormitory students, I felt that international students were only able to gain limited information through their connections with upperclassmen when compared to the Japanese-basis students. I think there are many international students who give up on participating in activities because they are not sure whether the clubs will welcome international students. In the future, we would like to focus on lowering the bar for international students to participate in extracurricular activities by improving the way information is disseminated. I would like to develop this organization into one that makes international students feel like they can reach out to Global Supporters for help whenever they have a problem.
Comment from Monica Sandei Teramoto (2nd year, College of Global Liberal Arts; President, College of Global Liberal Arts Student Council)
Many English-basis international students have a goal of working in Japan, and many of them want to participate in extracurricular activities so they can learn the Japanese culture and etiquette that they are expected to know. In addition, since there are many short-term study abroad students and international students who wish to join clubs even in their third year, we need to prepare a support network for those students as well. These students come to Japan with goals in mind, so we would like to actively help them take the first step toward to achieving those goals. Our efforts are not just limited to extracurricular activities. We are also working on encouraging international students to proactively participate in student government activities.