On Sunday, October 22, the Asia Week 2023 international exchange festival was held at Osaka Ibaraki Campus (OIC). This year's festival featured more than 60 booths and events. Several events related to World Expo Osaka-Kansai 2025 were also held, organized primarily by Ooki Ni (the Ritsumeikan University World Expo Student Committee), international students, Beyond Borders Plaza (BBP) Management Staff*1, and students in English-basis colleges and courses*2 (i.e., the American University-Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program (JDP) in the College of International Relations, the Community and Regional Policy Studies (CRPS) Major in the College of Policy Science, and the College of Global Liberal Arts).
At the cooperative event held with other universities at R-Agora on the second floor of Future Plaza, members of Ooki Ni took the stage together with members from a-tune (a student organization from Osaka University), Wakazo (a group consisting of students from Ritsumeikan University and other universities), V-station (a student organization from Osaka Metropolitan University), and T x SDGs (a student organization from Konan Women's University).
The first session, entitled “Views on Life and Death: Thinking about the Brilliance of Life from the Standpoint of Death,” began with a question: “What do you want your last words to be at the end of life?” It was a unique take on thinking about living, based on the World Expo’s main theme of “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” from the perspective of death. One of the event’s creators, Ryoma Iizuka (2nd year, College of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University), the former head of Wakazo, said he wants his last words to be “Now I can finally die.” According to Iizuka, who developed an intractable disease when he was younger and still lives with it today, “I chose these words because I want to cherish every day and every moment of life so that I can feel this way in my final moments.” In the second session, the participants shared their individual experiences and opinions on the topic of menstruation and sex education through the lens of femtech. They discussed Japan's lack of progress these areas as well as specific areas for improvement.
In the afternoon, the Expo 2025 International Exchange Symposium was held in the Colloquium on the third floor of Future Plaza. Domestic students from the College of Business Administration and the College of Policy Science and international students from several colleges including the Community and Regional Policy Studies Major in the College of Policy Science, American University-Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program in the College of International Relations, and the College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA) joined in person, while students from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) joined online. Together, these students with different cultures and background, held a discussion entirely in English.
The topic for the first session was “What should humans learn in the era of AI?”, while the topic for the second session was “For diverse cultures to resonate and co-create cultures for the future, what do we do?” After the introduction of the moderator and speakers, an overview of World Expo Osaka-Kansai was given, and numerous questions based on each topic were posed. Tran Khanh Linh from Vietnam (4th year, CPRS Major, College of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University) and Yuta Leffers (4th year, College of Global Liberal Arts), who was born in Japan and raised in Australia, served as the moderators. The discussion, which featured students with very different backgrounds and living experiences hailing from countries such as the United States, Australia, Germany, China, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Japan, was a truly cross-cultural exchange that is sure to lead to intercultural understanding. The audience, whose members ranged from children to senior citizens, spanned several generations, and at times, the speakers interacted with them and asked for their opinions, making this a truly meaningful event.
There were also booths set up by five groups from Ooki Ni in the classrooms on the second floor of Future Plaza and outside. Each booth ran events that focused on social issues from a variety of fields including food, education, diversity and intercultural understanding, and communication. SusTable, a group tackling food issues with the aim of creating “sustainable dining experiences,” sold a limited run of 100 dishes of gapao rice using soybeans instead of meat.
Meanwhile, the Diversity and Intercultural Understanding group ran games of sugoroku, a Japanese board game that people of all ages can enjoy. One of the participants even said they felt like they were able to experience traveling the world without leaving Japan. At its booth, which dealt with the topic of poison, the Communication With Anyone (CWA) group designed a display that sought to foster dialogue by conducting a quiz on poison. In this way, all of the booths ran events where visitors of all ages could learn something while communicating with the booth operators. This event appears to have helped build momentum ahead of the World Expo in 2025. Going forward, we will continue to plan various events and projects at OIC to generate excitement for the World Expo and create opportunities for students to experience the "brilliance of life" both before and during the Expo period.
*1: BBP Management Staff: Student staff who conduct activities at the Beyond Borders Plazas (global commons focused on international exchange and language learning) to contribute to the globalization of each campus.
*2: English-basis colleges and courses: Colleges and courses where students take all classes and earn degrees in English. At Ritsumeikan University, this refers to the American University-Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program in the College of International Relations, the Community and Regional Policy Studies (CRPS) major in the College of Policy Science, the Information Systems Science and Engineering Course (ISSE) in the College of Information Science and Engineering, and the College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA).