To celebrate our successes and share our plans for the future the MEXT Scholars Association held its second Annual General Meeting on the 25th of August, 2018. It was attended by over 50 members from various fields including business consulting, pharmaceutics, software development, and B2B manufacturing. Representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japan Student Services Organizations (JASSO), along with our Association Partners Originator, Curio Japan and Doorkel also kindly graced the occasion with their presence.

In his opening address, Mr. Oguri, Senior Specialist at the Office for Student Exchange at MEXT, called on all scholars currently in education to continue being proactive in the following three areas: (1) To actively take part in non-academic pursuits too, in order to learn about Japanese society on a deeper level, (2) to form strong bonds of support within the MEXT scholar community, and (3) to consider a career in Japan after graduation. In a globalized world, many Japanese organizations and individuals will appreciate the unique insights that MEXT scholars who understand multiple cultures can provide.

Next, Mr. Yamamoto, Director of the Student Exchange Programs Planning Division at JASSO, gave an address about his long friendship with an American MEXT scholar whom he had met when he was a college student. He was inspired by his friend’s curiosity and zest for life, and sees great potential in MEXT scholars to contribute back to Japan and the world.

Following the opening addresses was the annual report of the Association’s activities in the 2017 fiscal year (Aug 2017 to July 2018), and committee’s plans for the next fiscal year. Focus areas for the next year are (1) to further expand our alumni network, both within and outside of Japan and (2) to increase the number of career support and professional development opportunities for both alumni and students.

We also had a From Scholars to Scholars seminar, with the following alumni speaking about their professional experiences and plans for the future. This provided much inspiration to both alumni and students in the audience to be proactive about seizing opportunities to develop oneself and contribute back to society.

  1. Cesar Antonio Diez Pachas: An Peruvian project manager who graduated from Kobe University in 2012 with a master of engineering in informatics – control systems. Currently works in Singapore as a senior project manager of targeted advertisement for Rakuten’s merchants. While in Tokyo, he was also the president of APEJA, the Peruvian Association for Students and Alumni in Japan from 2016 to 2017.
  2. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc: An Vietnamese IT professional who graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2006 with a masters degree in computer science. Currently works in Tokyo at FPT Japan, the Japanese subsidiary of a leading Vietnamese corporation with more than 32,000 employees worldwide. While she returned to Vietnam a few years after graduation, she came back to Japan in 2016 with her own family. Outside of her job at FPT, she is also working to improve the accessibility of Japanese language education to immigrants’ families.
  3. Jarkko Havas: A Finnish management consultant who graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2015 with a masters in sustainability science. Currently works in Belgium as an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company. He is a core member of the McKinsey Center for Agricultural Transformation, which focuses on reducing poverty, improving climate resilience, improving nutrition, and fostering economic growth through successful agricultural transformations.

Finally, we ended the event with a birthday cake celebrating our successes in the last two years. Participants mingled over food and drinks, and a good number even joined the after party at a nearby gyoza place.

We sincerely thank all participants and partners for your continued support of the Association, and look forward to inspiring even more MEXT scholars, both alumni and students, in your pursuit of career and personal excellence.

Written by Royce Lee. Pictures taken by Federico Cazzaniga.

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