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, the organization’s name was formally announced to a small gathering of about 20 MEXT scholars and alumni. In the opening presentation, the following goals for the MEXT Scholars’ Network were outlined: to encourage members of the 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. These are planned to be achieved 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 her experience contributing to her company’s business efforts in Vietnam, showing how international students can bridge the gap between different countries and cultures.
The members then bonded over pizza and drinks, talking about life as a foreigner in Japan, 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 continued 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!