The international students arrived with the interns at Showa Women’s University from the Olympic Center to begin the very first day of SSIP 2019. There were 15 international students (2 had yet to arrive) and four SSIP interns who arrived at the Global Lounge ready to kick off the Opening Ceremony and a Program Orientation from Kurakata-san. After Kurakata-san gave the students an orientation and an overview of three weeks that they will be spending in Tokyo, the Opening Ceremony began with remarks from President Kaneko. Afterwards, the international students had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the group and share their reasons for choosing to come to Tokyo and participate in SSIP. For many students, it was their first time in Japan. While some expressed their anxieties about being in a foreign country, all students were excited to get to know people from all over the world, immerse themselves in culture that may completely differ from their own, and explore Japan as much as possible.
After the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony, the international students were sorted into four different groups to get ready for a campus tour of Showa’s campus. Several Showa students volunteered as campus tour guides to introduce their school—important locations, histories, and interesting facts–to the international students. It appeared that for many, the beautiful flowers and the scenery of the Showa Koi Pond quickly made the location a favorite spot on campus.
The students returned to the Global Lounge to begin the Welcome Party. The party was kicked off with a toast from President Kaneko, followed by a wonderful performance by the Koto Club. After saying kanpai and itadakimasu as a group, the students were able to enjoy some delicious catered food—ranging from chicken nuggets to a wide variety of sushi and kamaboko. Many engaged in conversations with Showa’s professors who will be leading the lectures for SSIP and the Showa students that they will be taking classes with. The Koto Club graciously offered to stay for the entirety of the event to give students a chance to try playing the koto themselves. It was a great day of many introductions, new experiences, and the start of new friendships.