FY2009 “Reitaku Studies Crew” Program Report III

Reflecting upon the Tanigawa Orientation Camp

■Reflections from the Tanigawa Orientation Camp

Kei Konno, Department of Economics, International School of Economics and Business Administration

After seeing just how much fun the freshmen of the College of Foreign Studies had at the Tanigawa spa and other activities, along with their dedication to studying the roots of the University as part of the Reitaku Studies program, I felt relieved to have cleared my goal of “warmly welcoming the freshmen.” The fact that I managed to speak in front of a large crowd also boosted my self-confidence, which will be certainly useful in the future.
My only regret was that the Tanigawa Orientation Camp was not available for the students of the School of Economics. While the freshmen of the College of Foreign Studies were spending time in Tanigawa, Economics School students had to undergo intensive lecturing on campus. This prevented students from communicating across departmental boundaries. It is also just unfair to deprive Economics students of the opportunity to learn about their own university that Foreign Studies students enjoyed.
In any event, this orientation camp turned out to be an unforgettable experience. There are many aspects we must reflect upon, but I hope we can address them over our next few years at this university.

■Tanigawa Orientation Camp
Kazuhiro Sekiguchi, College of Foreign Studies (majoring in International Exchange and International Cooperation)

In Tanigawa this spring, I felt something I had never felt before.
Freshmen of Reitaku University undergo the Tanigawa Orientation Camp, a two-night three-day program that takes place at Tanigawa in Gunma Prefecture immediately after orientation. Since I am originally from Gunma, the word “Tanigawa” immediately reminds me of the phrase “Minakami and Tanigawa for skiing and mountain climbing,” taken from the local card game. That sums up what Tanigawa is all about.
This program has a long history at Reitaku University. Freshmen are gathered at Tanigawa, where the founder Chikuro Hiroike passed away, to learn about him and his philosophy, while establishing friendships with the fellow students with whom they will spend the next four years.
I attended this camp as part of the Reitaku Studies Crew, and teamed up with Satoshi Konno to teach the freshmen about Reitaku University founder Chikuro Hiroike.
This report explains:
・What I intended;
・What the outcome was; and
・The new things I felt

<What intended I>
Let me firstly say that our common key concept was to “raise the level of students at the bottom, rather than those at the top.” In other words, it was an approach to deal with the majority rather than the minority. We set our bottom line as “ensuring that the freshmen would not ignore us, even though they don’t necessarily have to like us.
Achieving this was not an easy task, and ran the risk of sacrificing ourselves as well as students in the minority.
We were assigned mainly to explain the life of Chikuro Hiroike. The challenge was to get past the serious image this has, because the majority of freshmen would not like having to listen to a longwinded lecture. They would not listen to a story they are not interested in. I know I wouldn’t. Yet, if they do not listen, the time we spend with them would be completely meaningless. Given the serious image the theme had, we contemplated and decided to cite episodes involving Chikuro Hiroike. Instead of listing what Chikuro Hiroike did in what year, the approach of introducing actual episodes that illustrate what he was like would suit our concept better. When we came up with this idea, we felt that we could get the freshmen to at least listen to our presentation.
We cleared the bottom line, but the real work was only just beginning. The next challenge was devising how individual episodes should be delivered. Unless we capture the attention of all the students, the time we have with them would end when the camp ends, and would not produce a lasting impact that extends to a week or a year. In other words, they might listen, but without any interest.
We thought about how individual episodes could spark interest in freshmen. Our answer was “empathy.” It was not too difficult to think of materials they could emphasize with, such as convincing, impressive, or humorous episodes.
I myself, however, could not feel the supposed effects of those episodes. They did not convince, impress or amuse me, and since I had done the least amount of research on the university, I thought I had the closest position to the freshmen. What I felt, in fact, was quite the opposite, such as disinterest and frustration. By the time I realized I was doing so, I was out to criticize the episodes. I was asking “Why?” and “How?,” as if to desperately justify my reaction.
Then, I felt a sense of “empathy” from a different angle. It was a feeling of “empathy” that was far more difficult to acknowledge than the empathy you get when convinced or impressed about something. I knew that the majority of freshmen would feel the same way. It was a complex feeling but it convinced me that I could connect with the students, and guide them to the goal.

<The outcome>
Konno and I conducted a presentation in this camp according to our intentions.
After 7 to 8 sessions, our self-assessed score was 50-50. Elements making up the positive 50% included the precise relevance of our intentions and positive future outlook.
The negative 50% was due to the realization that what I defined as the “minority group” of freshmen was not so “minor” after all. This was a positive outcome, but I owe the students an apology for my oversight.

<The new things I felt>
This section is about how I felt after the camp.
Being a self-centered person, I could not end a project like this with the simple acknowledgement of the joy and success of others. I had to examine what I personally gained from this project. If I attempt to describe the “new feeling” I have been referring to, it goes like this: “Feelings of disinterest or frustration may be more effective in attracting others or making them emphasize than being convinced or impressed. Yet, when you are directly involved in the situation, the feeling which comes is similar to “excitement,” which makes it difficult to observe calmly.”
This feeling may be similar to love. When a couple breaks up so viciously that they would not talk to each other, it is difficult to convince either of them to initiate a conversation. However, let’s suppose that I was being a confidant for both of them. If I do something that offends them both, they share the same anger toward me. The one-directional anger they had towards each other might transform into a common anger toward me, generating a type of empathy between them. That may give them an excuse to start communicating with each other.

I was, in fact, put in this very position about six months ago. I offended them on purpose and created an opportunity for them to start talking. They ended up cutting off all communication with me, which proves my point. When you are directly involved in a situation, the feeling which comes is similar to “excitement,” which makes it difficult to observe calmly.

It gives me joy to know that I was able to understand this new feeling through my involvement in the camp. This will undoubtedly serve me well in the future. Let me express my high expectations for the future of these freshmen, and a sense of relief that the Tanigawa Orientation Camp ended on such a successful note.



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