Kobe Port Fireworks Festival Event

On Saturday, 5th August the Kansai Team of MSA organized an evening hang-out to enjoy the brilliant display of fireworks in Kobe Port area. Every year on the first Saturday of August around 10000 fireworks are shot at the sky and they flower into a dazzling spectacle of colors. This year was special as it is the 150th anniversary of the Port of Kobe and the fireworks was increased making it the biggest in Kansai area.

Our planning and preparations started weeks before the event day. On Saturday, the MSA volunteers reached the venue quite early to make arrangements for everyone’s accommodation and reserve a good viewing spot till the evening. The MSA especially appreciates our Japanese friends who came out to help us with the preparation. Slowly people started to come and the seemingly empty space was filled with chattering and excitement. By 5:30 pm, most of our friends joined us and the wait for the fireworks continued. This time 23 people from all over Kansai area joined the event and we were very happy to see many known faces from the last event in Kyoto.

The Kobe Port area view is amazingly beautiful even without any fireworks. As we waited, we first witnessed an amazingly beautiful sunset-show with the Port Tower area in the background. Then we were greeted by an amazing transition of the Kobe City-scape into a brilliantly lit nightscape. The view is considered one of the best in Japan.

At 7:30 pm, it was finally the time for the fireworks to start and the next one hour was dominated by the thundering display of colorful lights in the sky. It was simply awe-inspiring. The fireworks finished at 8:30 pm but as crowded as it was expected to be most of us made it to the station just in time to catch the last train back to home. It was a beautiful evening and the enthusiasm of the participants made worth all the effort that was put in. The MSA also wants to thank our friends from other scholarship organizations who decided to join us and make the time spent more beautiful.

Gion Matsuri!

On Sunday, 16th July, 2017 the Kansai division of MSA organized an evening walk to the Gion-festival in Kyoto. Despite the bad-weather with occasional heavy downpour, 33 people joined the event. It is important to note that this was one of the first MSA events in Kansai and so, the support shown by the fellow MEXT scholars was a great source of motivation for the organizers. People came not only from all parts of Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe) but there were 2 participants from Okayama and Kagoshima too.

Our evening started with a visit to the Yasaka Shrine which is the shrine of the Gion-festival. As it was the day of Yoi-Yama, the day before the procession of floats, there were many special events in and around Yasaka Shrine. One of those was the performance of Iwami-Kagura, an ancient Japanese dance form usually performed in shrines to please the deities. Iwami-Kagura is from the Western part of Shimane-Prefecture and depicts a fight-scene of Susanoo, the Kami of Storm with an eight-headed serpentine monster. The participants tried to blend-in with the crowd despite the hot-weather and become a part of the festive-mood.

After the performance, we started to walk towards Shijo-Karasuma area. Our next stop was the floats (or the Yama-bokos) which are the prime symbols of Gion-Matsuri. The crowded street was filled with people in yukatas and it was a beautiful sight. The Yama-bokos were all beautifully decorated and stationed elegantly as if all of them were looking forward to the procession on the next day. Our evening ended with enjoying the local street-foods which were in plenty and also another attraction of the festival.

In a short time of a few hours, many of us became friends with each-other. Most of the participants were happy as this was their first official outing with other MEXT scholars. The breaking of ice was the primary objective of organizing this event. The plan is to work towards building a very strong family of MEXT scholars in Kansai area and beyond. Before we left, we made a promise to meet again soon. The wheel has been set into motion and the Kansai team is now already discussing about their next event.

 

 

 

 

Reception for MEXT scholars in Kobe on the 24th of June

On the 24th of June, MEXT and JASSO co-organized a reception for MEXT scholars in Kobe filled with speeches by MSA and MEXT representatives, cultural program points and opportunities for networking for MEXT scholars in the Kansai area. Of course, MSA was also present with its very own booth; answering questions, spreading the word and encouraging new scholars to sign up on the spot and become a member of MSA! Furthermore, MSA also arranged a number of seminars to help new scholars getting started in Japan. Two of our committee members even traveled all the way from Tokyo to guide new scholars through the event in English as well as Japanese and to personally invite them to join our growing community!

Our regional head for the Kansai region and graduate student at Kyoto University gave a warm welcome speech to all new scholars at the event.

We would like to thank Mr. Hiroki Matsuo, Deputy Director-General of the Higher Education Bureau, MEXT, and Mr. Hideki Yonekawa, Vice President of JASSO for their words of support and for giving us the opportunity to connect with you through events like the reception for MEXT scholars in Kobe. We also greatly appreciate everyone who visited our booth and took part in our seminars and were simply overwhelmed by the great number of students taking interest in MSA. Thanks to every single one of you, our community is growing bigger and our bonds are getting stronger every day! With a bigger and stronger community, we can have a greater impact and it will be easier to give back to Japanese society!

MSA Birthday Bash

Happy Birthday to MSA!

MEXT Scholars’ Association turned 1 on the 17th of June and what better way to celebrate than with a big cake surrounded by old and new friends! MSA organized a birthday event at the Omotesando Oval Building in Shibuya filled with both opportunities for experience exchange and for networking with fellow scholars as well as alumni.

At this event, we had the honor to listen to how the following three alumni speakers succeeded and how they give back to the Japanese society:

1. Ashraf Omer from Sudan, a Deputy Manager at Sumitomo Chemical.

2. Benson Liu, an Australian Transfer Pricing Associate at Grant Thornton.

3. Arianne Dumayas, an Assistant Professor at Chuo University from the Philippines.

Our guest speakers started off with sharing the experiences they made studying and working in Japan. Since one of our themes is “to give back to the Japanese society”, we also asked our guest speakers for their opinions and experiences regarding this matter. They seemed to be doing their best to “give back”, be it giving back to students through their job in terms of education or giving back to those in need, of which there are plenty in Japan, even though it is such a highly developed country. We then proceeded to a panel discussion, which is part of our so-called “From Scholars to Scholars” series, which features alumni with professional experiences. We opened the floor to the audience to ask each of the speakers personal questions regarding their experiences in each of the fields that they are involved in.

The discussion was followed by an annual report from our side, where we presented our achievements throughout this first year as well as introduced out plans for the future and a warm greeting from Izumi-san, our MEXT representative. A networking session over finger food, drinks, snacks and delicious birthday cake concluded this year’s birthday party. MSA’s Birthday Bash was attended by nearly 50 alumni and current undergraduate as well as graduate students, with academic fields of expertise ranging from linguistics to mathematics and international relations.


We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks especially to ZESDA for opening this space for us to hold this unique event to celebrate our birthday and strengthen our community of MEXT scholars together. Last but not least, a big thank you to our guest speakers and every single MEXT scholar or alumni, who joined us for our birthday party and made this event special! We look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Photography provided by Jorel Chan

Meeting the Kohais – TUFS April 2017

For those of us who have been around for Japan for a while – we all remember how we all landed in Japan from a plane starry-eyed about what awaited us…

And how lost we were as well.

We think that if only we had links to close senpais who have been in Japan, many things would have been clearer. How to handle our first months in Japan, how to approach studying in Japan, how to save money …

This is why we visited TUFS to hang out with the new MEXT scholars there on the 23rd of April. We talked about where to shop, how to approach university applications and had a nice dinner over beloved sankichi bento.

We hope to continue these kinds of events to create links between previous and current or even graduated scholars! Thanks to all of you who came to participate and we hope to see you at our next event!

MEXT Scholars Welcome Party (Tokyo ’16)

On the 19th of November, both MEXT Scholars Exchange Platform (MSEP) and MEXT Scholars’ Network (MSN)  participated in the MEXT Scholars Welcome Party held at JASSO’s Odaiba dormitory.

The event was organized by MEXT and more than 300 participants from universities from all over Japan gathered.

We thank all the scholars for participating in the event and hope that the event gave everyone a chance to get to know fellow scholars, as well as MEXT scholar groups such as MSN and MSEP which aim to further and deepen the community between scholars.

The next party will be held probably in the middle of 2017 in Kansai so we hope to see you there!

“From Scholars to Scholars”: Speakers Series #2

#2: The Pathways of Engineering – Telecommunications, Civil, and Management.

“From Scholars to Scholars” is a series of panel discussions that feature alumni with outstanding professional experiences. We hope that in attending these sessions and interacting with other participants, both students and alumni alike will find the inspiration to contribute back to society in a larger capacity.

The 2nd iteration of the MEXT Scholars’ Network’s “From Scholars to Scholars” Speakers Series was held at the ASEAN-Japan Centre in Shinbashi on the 1 Oct 2016.

Our second panel discussion features the following three alumni speakers:

1. Sourabh Maiti, an Indian research engineer at Softbank.

2. Duangkamol Kamolyabutra, a Thai senior engineer at TÜV SÜD Japan, a German railway company.

3. Khoo Kai Siang, a Malaysian corporate strategy manager at Toyo Engineering Corporation.

We started off with the presentations of each speaker, personally sharing each of their educational experiences while studying her, as well as their career journeys ever since graduation. We then proceeded on to the panel discussion section, where we opened the floor to the audience to ask each of the speakers, personal questions regarding their experiences in each of the fields that they are involved in. Of note was especially how engineering as an education degree actually leads into very different and exciting pathways, as well as opening many doors, when it comes to career choices.

The discussion was concluded with a networking social session over pizza, drinks and other refreshments. The event was attended by over 30 alumni and current scholars alike, with academic field of expertise ranging from engineering to economics and international relations.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks especially to ASEAN-Japan Centre for once again opening this space for us to hold this unique event to build our community of MEXT scholars together. Last but not least, thanks to all of you who made it down to join us! See you at our next event!

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MEXT Scholarship Alumni Party

The MEXT Scholars’ Network held our inaugural alumni networking event on the 27th of August, 2016 at a cozy event space in Meguro. It was a rare opportunity for scholarship alumni from different professional backgrounds to reconnect with an internationally diverse community.

Though it was a rainy summer evening, we had a sizable turnout of 26 people from all around the Kanto region. There was a sizable buffet which was kindly prepared by a chef specializing in Italian cuisine, as well as a free flow of drinks.

The event was also attended by a few members of ZESDA (Zipang Economic System Design Association), a Japanese NPO that promotes social innovation through business, as well as JAPI (Japan Association for Promoting Internationalization). From diversity often comes new ideas and inspiration, and many of us took the opportunity to share our thoughts on cross-border innovation.

We would like to thank everyone for making this alumni party a success! We look forward to your continued support for future events at which alumni members may build their professional network.

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“From Scholars to Scholars”: Speakers Series #1

#1: Mobile Games, Student Ventures and Corporate Accounting

“From Scholars to Scholars” is a series of panel discussions that feature alumni with outstanding professional experiences. We hope that in attending these sessions and interacting with other participants, both students and alumni alike will find the inspiration to contribute back to society in a larger capacity.

The inaugural event of the MEXT Scholars’ Network “From Scholars to Scholars” Speakers Series was held at the ASEAN-Japan Center in Shinbashi on the 11th of June, 2016.

Our inaugural panel discussion featured the following three alumni:

  1. Thiago Kimura de Leon, a Brazilian creative director at Yodo1 Games, a Chinese mobile game software developer
  2. Goi Hoe Chin, a Singaporean senior researcher of entrepreneurship at Keio University
  3. Edmundo Prado, a Venezuelan accountant at INPEX Corporation, the largest Japanese oil and gas production company.

During the self-introduction section, each speaker kindly shared his personal and professional experiences in Japan, and also provided advice on how to choose one’s path in life. Then the panel discussion started, and with it a lively debate on the various merits and demerits of working in a small company as opposed to in a large, well-established corporation. Of particular interest to some participants was the role of tertiary education institutions in encouraging entrepreneurship.

The discussion ended with a reflection on “being hungry”, a point raised by one of the speakers. This was followed by a networking session with participants bonding over pizza and soft drinks. 

The event was attended by around 50 MEXT scholar and alumni, the latter of which hail from such diverse industries as business consulting, IT marketing and commodities trading.

Special thanks go to Sato Taiki of Fourth Valley Concierge for a speech on the challenges faced by international students in job hunting; to Akira Iyadomi, for starting development on a mobile platform that aims to connect MEXT scholars and alumni; to ASEAN-Japan Center for graciously allowing us the use of so accessible a venue. Last but not least, a big thank you goes to all the participants of our event. We hope to see you at our next event!

MEXT Scholars’ Association Launch Party

The launch party for the MEXT Scholars’ Network (MSN) was held in Kudanshita on Showa Day, 2016. It was the first day of Golden Week, a week-long stretch of public holidays in spring, and all of Tokyo was in a celebratory mood. 

At a wood-paneled reading room, we formally announced our organization’s name to a small gathering of about 20 MEXT scholars and alumni. In the opening presentation, we outlined the following goals for the MEXT Scholars’ Network: to encourage members of our community to be the best they can be, to engage with both public and private stakeholders in promoting the internationalization of Japanese society, and to elevate the profile of Japan and the MEXT Scholarship on the international stage. This we will achieve by building a platform for mutual support and information-sharing amongst members. 

Following the opening presentation were two speeches by active members of the community. The first was by Austin Zeng, a Singaporean MEXT Scholar from the University of Tokyo. He shared his experience interning at both a Japanese IT start-up and at a NGO that works closely with MEXT, and strongly encouraged the students among the audience to experience life outside of university too. The second was Tran Vu Ha Min, a Vietnamese alumnus who currently works at Odakyu Railways. She shared with us her experience contributing to her company’s business efforts in Vietnam, showing us how international students can bridge the gap between different countries and cultures. 

We then bonded over pizza and drinks, talking about life as a foreigner, career prospects in Japan, and sharing academic and business ideas. Some participants took the opportunity to catch up with old friends they had not seen in years. The after-event was held at a nearby izakaya, and the conversation continuied late into the warm spring night. 
Special thanks go to Akira Iyadomi from worldnavi for providing us the pizza and drink, and Hayato Kaneda from 営業課 for such a homely venue. A big thank you also goes to the participants, for supporting us in building this community. We hope to see everyone again at our next event!