FY2008 “Reitaku Studies Crew” Program Report III

■Report: Enlightenment through Reitaku Study:Rediscovering the ordinary

Yuichiro Satonaga, College of Foreign Languages

Preparation for Reitaku Studies

I was first invited to the Reitaku Studies Crew in early March, halfway through spring break. When the Crew leader Sugiki asked me to join the team to present information about Reitaku University to freshmen, I casually accepted, thinking that it might be an interesting opportunity to “do something out of the ordinary.”
I should have known that things would not go as smoothly as I thought they would. It started with discussions on what direction to take, and the significance of this activity. We then examined how we could explore the university’s characteristics from various angles, gain in-depth knowledge about the founder Chikuro Hiroike, and bring the information together for an effective presentation. It effectively broke the monotony of my boring life, and was a very fulfilling time.
The days flew by, and it was April 5 before I knew it, the day we headed to the camp. With anxiety and anticipation, we set off for Tanigawa. The Reitaku Studies Crew consisted of four members, and I was assigned to conduct lectures at the Oana Memorial Hall and Tanigawa Reitaku Hall. These were the spots where the founder spent his remaining years on research, education, and as a residence. On the way to Tanigawa, I was filled with excitement about taking on a fresh challenge, thinking that I will be bringing new ideas into the minds of these students.

Past orientations and new initiative

Until last year, Tanigawa staff and teachers were involved in providing information at the orientation. That format was abruptly changed this year, and the task was given to regular students like myself, who were obviously less experienced. What drove us through this camp was knowing our lack of ability, confidence in our extensive preparation work, and awareness that ours was a “brand new challenge.” Another important factor was the firm conviction within the Reitaku Studies Crew that there was something that could only be achieved from the student perspective. It was to “make freshmen see Reitaku University from their personal viewpoint.”
Past Reitaku Studies lectures at Oana and Tanigawa focused on the founder and how he saw Reitaku University. The founder was also only described as the “man who developed moral science.” This is definitely a valid approach, as Reitaku University was established on the foundation of “moral science.” Learning about this foundation certainly helps you see the essence of what Reitaku University represents. However, such an approach may not necessarily appeal to the modern freshmen or student.
This is why we decided to depart from the conventional approach. We shifted the center of focus from the founder to Reitaku University itself, and tried to introduce the founder as one of the elements for learning about the University. It was decided we would deliver information based on the concept of “understanding the characteristics of Reitaku University.” We felt that having senior students deliver this information would have a greater chance of making freshmen embrace a personal viewpoint in learning about Reitaku University.

Activities at the Oana Memorial Hall

The protocol for the Oana Memorial Hall session was to follow the information session with a visit to the “Rinju Room,” where the founder passed away. Here, we made efforts to build a positive and active atmosphere while still conveying the significance of this room. As senior students, we made use of our most powerful weapon – “friendliness,” and talked to freshmen as they entered the room in order to lighten the mood. In the course of the conversations, the new students were urged to see the site as a place where someone important to them had passed on, rather than the room where the University’s founder took his last breath. This set the right atmosphere for delivering subsequent information. The session provided information about the mementos preserved in the room, and episodes about the founder himself. We used a few tricks before beginning this presentation.
For example, comparisons were made to other universities. It has become increasingly popular for private universities to offer programs providing information about themselves. There have been more opportunities for students to learn about the founders of their universities. We cited examples like Keio University and Toyo University, to show that Reitaku University was by no means the only university to run this kind of program. Then, we added the fact that Reitaku University has promoted this practice since its foundation. In this way, we tried to convince the new students that Reitaku University was not doing anything out of the ordinary.
Another tactic we employed was to “transform the image of death.” Since it is impossible to eliminate the negative image of “death” from the Rinju Room, we decided to change the image of “death” itself. Instead of saying “This is where the founder died,” we described the room as the place where “the founder passed away peacefully, surrounded by his wife, his son and his followers, who all comforted him lovingly in his final moments.” This approach portrayed “death” not as something dark and scary, but as a “moment of respect,” and presented the “Rinju Room” as a place filled with gentle affection that surrounded the founder.
Unfortunately, the session made me realize how little I know about individual items displayed in the Rinju Room, and identified many other tasks that need to be addressed. Despite this, we felt we got a positive response from the students.

Lecture session at the Tanigawa Reitaku Hall

As explained above, our objective was to teach freshmen about the characteristics of Reitaku University from a “personal viewpoint.” I am proud to say that this objective was fulfilled the most in lecture session at the Tanigawa Reitaku Hall, where we took maximum advantage of our status as fellow students.
In the activities at the Tanigawa Reitaku Hall, we put forth the objective of “conveying the characteristics of Reitaku University.” The program was designed to inspire the freshmen into asking themselves what university education means, and learn several features of the “Reitaku brand.” The questions we presented were:
(1) Why are we acting as the Reitaku Studies Crew?
(2) What does “Reitaku” mean?
(3) Why is there a hot spring spa in a university facility?
(4) What experiences have we had at Reitaku University?
The summary for each topic is given below.
(1) Because I am passionate about “Reitaku.” It is my nature to want to recommend and share information about what I like. I also joined the Crew out of my enthusiasm for providing new students with an opportunity to realize Reitaku University has a lot more to offer than other universities.
What is important here is that Reitaku University allows its students to play the main role in providing a program to study about their own university. No other university offers a program under the initiative of currently enrolled students. What we did was help the freshmen “study” about Reitaku, rather than giving an “education” about Reitaku. Other universities often assign teaching staff to “educate” students about their university. In contrast, we offer an opportunity to “study” for both the senior students offering information and the new students receiving information. In this sense, Reitaku takes a completely different standpoint, which should be counted as unique to Reitaku University.
(2) “Reitaku” is a phrase taken from the Chinese classic text “I Ching: The Book of Changes.” It means, “It is a pleasure to see how brooks running alongside each other bring mutual splendor. It is also a pleasure to see friends who share the same ambition help each other grow.” Reitaku University’s founder expanded and redefined the phrase, saying “Reitaku is about becoming as the sun in the sky; one who can nurture and care for all living beings.”
This is a philosophy unique to Reitaku University, which shapes the core of the “Reitaku brand.” Why did our founder place the spotlight on the phrase “Reitaku”? Pondering such a question is an important part of understanding the University’s characteristics.
(3) Materials on the university’s history should be referred to for an answer to this question. My own answer is that the existence of a hot spring spa reflects the University’s emphasis on “health” and “consideration.” Some may take a “healthy life” for granted, but the founder must have learned from experience how precious and wonderful it is. He must have sincerely believed that good health formed the foundation for all endeavors. Based on this experience, he spent a large sum of money to purchase the spa and establish a facility for use by many, rather than just himself. Studying materials on the University’s history points to his compassion. There is a great significance in finding out that a man of such compassion established Reitaku University.
(4) When I mentioned earlier that we were able to take maximum advantage of being fellow students, it was because the positive things of a university can only be conveyed convincingly when voluntarily presented by senior students. In terms of “familiarity,” “friendliness” and “authenticity,” nothing works better than comments from currently enrolled students. Honda (majoring in Japanese language), who conducted the presentation with me, was in charge of compiling past episodes. Her episodes from university festivals and campus clubs portrayed a sense of “gratitude” and “consideration,” which we thought was an important element in learning about Reitaku.

What I kept in mind throughout the camp

What I kept in mind when presenting information during the Tanigawa OC (Orientation Camp) was to “put my heart” into the presentations.
Two days before setting off for the camp, I was preparing for the presentations on a sunny afternoon with Honda. There were naturally a number of things that worried us, but the biggest one was whether we could “get the message across.” We were not exactly skilled at grabbing peoples’ attention, giving speeches, or staging presentations. Not only that, we had to give this information to freshmen who knew very little about Reitaku University. Though it was too late to start worrying, we were so keen to do whatever we could that we thought long and hard in search of an idea.
It was then that a Reitaku professor walked by. When we mentioned our concerns, the professor said, “Try not to make yourself look too good. Always remind yourself of the audience’s standpoint. You must put your heart into your presentation.” I realized we had been focusing on how to use quips and catchphrases to deliver information. The content may have been for the new students, but its delivery was designed for our benefit. The professor reminded us of the importance of having “passion” in conveying the information. At camp, we conducted the presentation with the professor’s advice in mind. It was fortunate that everyone in the audience seems to have sensed and responded to our commitment.

Importance of consideration and execution, identified in the Crew’s post-camp review
On the second night, the Reitaku Studies Crew gathered for a review meeting. Although there were many things to reflect upon, I was mostly satisfied with the positive outcomes that could contribute to future camps. That was until I heard Sugiki’s comment. He said, “I was very impressed to see Y in the Japanese language department (senior student staff majoring in Japanese language and culture) sorting freshmen’s shoes outside the Tanigawa Reitaku Hall.” I was dumbstruck.
Until then, I was somewhat confident about my presentations over the two-day camp, and felt that I left some impact. I thought I managed to convey information about Reitaku rather well. ,Sugiki’s comment made me realize that I did not fully grasp what this was all about. I was ashamed beyond words, and had to say to myself, “Did I have the consideration Y demonstrated over the last two days?” I knew this kind of subtle consideration in daily life was the most important factor in conveying what “Reitaku” signifies. How could I possibly have forgotten it?
It was because I was too preoccupied with my own learning and growth. I thought I was committed to communicating the positive properties of Reitaku University to freshmen. In actuality, my efforts were not truly for new students, but for my own goals. I was only running toward the goal of my own achievement and experiences. Focusing entirely on achieving success and making an impact left no room to consider what was most important emotionally. I was too egocentric to recognize the benefit of others, something far more important.
This realization was a true blessing. There was still one day of the camp left. I renewed my resolve and promised myself to dedicate my efforts “to the sole benefit of freshmen.”

After completing the activities of the Reitaku Studies Crew

It was a wonderful feeling to bring the Tanigawa OC and the experiment with the first-ever “Reitaku Studies Crew” to a successful close. I wish to thank all the teachers and other staff for their support.
Now back in normal life, I am more aware than ever before about how precious that normality is. A bad habit of mine is only seeing the big picture and losing sight of the details. It is important to consider what we think, how we think and how we put those thoughts into practice. To me, the most significant theme I identified in the Reitaku Studies was “daily life.”



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