The ISAK badminton club was treated to some expert advice and a lesson from a former Olympic athlete last week! Mr. Ikeda, the husband of Mako-san, a member of our facilities team, competed on the Japanese Olympic badminton team. Mr. Ikeda challenged the students to several matches. It was an exciting visit! Warm thanks to Mako-san and Mr. Ikeda.
Last Sunday, students got a lesson in one of Japan’s oldest art forms: ceramics. A ceramic artist from Azumino, Mr. Tomoyuki Honma, led a hand-building workshop for some ISAK students and staff. Students created a variety of vessels in their own personal style. Thanks to Mr. Honma for spending time with us and sharing your knowledge and art. We are so grateful! Thank you also, to ISAK’s Tami-san for helping make this event happen! You can learn more about Mr. Honma’s work here.
ISAK offers students many chances to engage with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals to tackle real-world problems; yesterday was one such opportunity. Ms. Kanako Takakana, a senior editor with the The Japan Times, sat down with a group of students in the Kamiyama Academic Center to discuss the newspaper and get feedback about how to attract more international students as readers. The Japan Times is Japan’s oldest and only independent language newspaper. Students who are interested in journalism and politics were selected to participate. It was a very fun and informative session for everyone!
Last Sunday, design mogul and creative director of Good Design Company, Manabu Mizuno, visit the ISAK campus to share his thoughts on the importance of design in today’s society.
Mr. Mizuno is also the creator of Kumamon, a mascot designed for the Kumamoto Prefecture in 2010 to draw attention to the newly opened Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) line. The character became extremely popular and is now loved throughout Japan! His work also includes a vast portfolio including graphic design, product design, space design, branding and advertising.
Mr. Mizuno shared that being a good designer is not necessarily a skill you are born with, but rather, it is all about collecting knowledge and practicing how to express it. He closed his presentation with the hope that he could inspire at least a few students in the room to consider a future in design. “The world needs more designers,” Mizuno-san concluded. “Of all the languages one can learn, design is especially important. It’s everywhere. it’s universal.”
On March 5, ISAK founding donor, Mr. Kotaro Yamagishi, traveled to campus to share his life story and offer some powerful advice to ISAK students. During his presentation, Mr. Yamagishi talked about his experiences working for tech companies such as NetAge, CNET, and GREE (which he cofounded in 2004). He also shared some details about his latest work as CEO of Keio Innovation Initiative, a new venture capital company that funds start-up companies in association with Keio University.
Mr. Yamagishi talked about both his successes and failures in business, along with the lessons he has learned from working in the ever-changing tech industry. He also shared stories about the people who have profoundly influenced his life, which included diverse individuals from industry CEO’s to his grandfather and a Buddhist monk. The presentation was eye-opening and inspiring for students, since Mr. Yamagishi is just 39 years old!
Two things that drive Mr. Yamagishi are curiosity – “I like watching the beginnings of societal evolution as an insider” – and the desire to control his own life – “I hate being prohibited from doing what I want without reason”. Mr. Yamagishi also shared his personal discipline:
• I do what I should do. I do not run away.
• I make my own decisions. I do not rely on others.
• I do what I can to solve problems. I do not put blame on others.
Thank you, Mr. Yamagishi, for sharing your inspirational story with us!
Last Sunday, ISAK’s Project PEAK, a student-led group focusing on health and wellness, hosted a workshop on campus featuring Mr. Takao Kondo, a former New York Yankees trainer!
The workshop, which was attended by about 20 students, started with a presentation from Mr. Kondo, in which he shared his life story, along with some expert knowledge about how muscles work. The students also got some professional tips about how to stretch properly to avoid injuries during sports and exercise. Then it was off to the gym for a boot-camp style workout with some of the same challenging exercises Mr. Kondo used when working with professional baseball players.
Even though Mr. Kondo no longer helps train baseball players, he is still involved with fitness. He is currently working at a fast-growing tech start-up called FiNC, which aims to create personalized health and wellness services and products.
The Project PEAK students were very inspired to learn about FiNC because the PEAK students share a very similar mission, and their goal is to spread the message of health and wellness: “It is a choice to live healthy.”
Thank you very much, Mr. Kondo, for sharing your expertise and supporting our students!
Last Friday, a group of colleges that are part of Colleges That Change Lives (http://ctcl.org/) visited the ISAK campus to meet with our students. CTCL is a group of liberal arts colleges in the United States committed to the philosophy that every student should seek a college that develops a lifelong love of learning and provides the foundation for a successful and fulfilling life beyond college. They are also known for providing a welcoming environment to international students.
This was an incredible opportunity to hear from highly regarded liberal arts schools that align very well with the ISAK mission. Representatives from Juanita College, St. Mary’s College of California, Evergreen State College, and University of Puget Sound participated in the visit. The afternoon included a lively, interactive and informative presentation on CTCL and the college search process, followed by a mini college fair at which students got the chance to talk to representatives about their particular schools.
We appreciate these colleges visiting ISAK, and all the valuable information they shared with our community. The Colleges That Change Lives book by Loren Pope (the former New York Times education editor and journalist who started this movement) can be found in our school library.
Last Saturday, 42 members of the highly regarded Global Shapers Community (including former ISAK intern, Mr. Ryosuke Kobayashi) traveled to ISAK for a leadership session with our students. The Global Shapers Community (GSC) is a subsidiary of the World Economic Forum; the community is made up of a network of hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities.
The GSC visit provided an exciting opportunity for ISAK students to listen, learn, and collaborate with talented and successful young adults who are pursuing a variety of careers in many different fields.
The 4 hour session kicked off with a meet & greet followed by a GSC panel discussion where members shared their accomplishments and fielded questions from ISAK students. When asked about facing obstacles and negativity, Mr. Yoshikazu Kato, a columnist for the New York Times China, responded,”We have a responsibility to let the next generation know what they can do. That is why we should make a difference. When you take an action, you might face confrontation. But that is good! It will be your motivation to move forward. Be consistent in yourself. That is my advice.”
After listening to a presentation abut our school delivered by G-10 students Estella and Mari (great job!), the Shapers divided into teams to mentor eight groups of students who are working on a variety of projects and initiatives. Each group received lots of valuable feedback and advice. We are truly grateful the the Shapers for their visit to ISAK and all of the inspiration they provided!
Mr. Ryosuke Kobayashi shared some thoughts about working with ISAK students in this video:
ー ニューヨーク・タイムズ 中国語版 コラムニストの加藤 嘉一さんのコメント
小林亮介氏のコメント| Global Shapers x ISAKセッション
Thanks to our generous donor, Airweave, who donated 350 special mattresses to ISAK, our students typically get a good night’s sleep. But just how important is sleep for daily life? Professor Sunao Uchida, from Waseda University, shared the science, latest research and theories about sleep with ISAK students in an informative seminar last week. The presentation was interesting and reminded everyone that sleep is essential for brain function and productivity in the classroom.
Thank you, Professor Uchida, and Airweave for visiting our campus and sharing your knowledge with all of us!
On Monday, November 2, ISAK students and faculty received a special visit from Her Highness, Princess Takamado, a member of the Japanese Imperial Family!
The Princess toured campus with school founder, Lin Kobayashi, visited classes, and learned about the leadership projects ISAK students are undertaking to create positive change in the world. She also took time to answer students’ questions and reminded them that “uphill struggles (in life) are challenges that are meant to be undertaken; eventually you will get to the top.”
Thank you, Princess Takamado, for honoring us with your visit.
One of the many factors that makes ISAK unique is that we spare no effort to bring the outside world into the classroom. A powerful example of this happened a few weeks ago during ISAK Summer School 2015 when Ms. Yuki Moriya, Public Information Officer at UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), visited ISAK and met with our students, including eight students who are themselves refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tibet and Sahara.
After discussing her role at the UNHCR and the world-wide refugee problem, Ms. Moriya left the students with an inspiring message:
“When you think about the situations that refugees face – wars, prosecution… these are all man-made disasters. Unfortunately, the number of 6 million refugees in the world is increasing, but since this is a man-made problem, there should be a solution. Each of you might be able to find it.”
The event was impactful for our Summer School students who had already begun to learn more about the world through their peers various perspectives and backgrounds. Thank you to Ms. Moriya for taking time to visit ISAK and for Ms. Urara Furukawa, who works for the UNHCR Myanmar office, for introducing us to Ms. Moriya via a comment on our Facebook page last October.
Today, Mr. Kenji Higashi, Executive Officer from Spiber, visited ISAK to share with our students the story of Spiber’s innovation and the mission behind this cutting-edge biomaterial technology company.
One of the Spiber’s remarkable successes is production, on a large scale, of “Spider silk”, which is strong as steel, lighter than carbon fiber, and can be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. (http://www.nature.com/
While students found the science and innovation behind recombinant spider silk interesting, they were just as excited to learn the story of how the company started. Mr. Higashi explained that the project started back in 2004. The founders of the company were all students at Keio University. Chatting at a party one night, the conversation turned to which insect is the strongest in the world. Ultimately, the group realized it was not an insect that was the strongest, but rather the web a spider makes to catch insects. What started as a casual conversation led to 10 years of research and innovation. Now the founders of Spiber are recognized worldwide as innovators who can make a big difference to various industries such as the textile industry, auto industry, pharmaceutical industry, and more.
Kenji told ISAK students, “What is most important for us, Spiber, is not just creating spider silk or protein materials. The most important thing for us is to contribute to humanity. So the question that we have all the time is what we can do to make the world a better place than now…and our answer so far is to create synthetic proteins because we are better than anyone else at doing this.”
Thank you so much, Kenji for giving our students great inspiration to be a catalyst for positive change!
Ms. Lin Kobayshi, ISAK’s Founder and Chair of the Board, visited our students during Project Week to share her entrepreneurial experience and offer some inspiring advice.
When Ms. Kobayashi founded ISAK, she knew that she wanted to create an educational environment where leaders-to-be could challenge, inspire and learn from each other. And, she knew that she wanted the school to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, a holistic curriculum which emphasizes both rigorous academics as well as personal development. But, Ms. Kobayshi had no previous experience starting an international boarding high school in Japan. As she set forth on a five year journey, Ms. Kobayashi found three ideas to be extremely important in ultimately reaching her goal. She shared these ideas with our students in hopes of inspiring them to successfully pursue their own goals:
1. Find your motivation.
Keep asking yourself what it is you want to achieve in your life.
2. Take an action.
Start prototyping, no matter how small. “For ISAK, summer school got us started. We began with 30 summer school students in 2010 and now we are working towards reforming education in Japan!”
3. Be persistent.
Never give up and always keep moving forward, even in the face of discomfort.
About Lin Kobayashi:
ISAK’s founder, Ms. Kobayashi, began her career at Morgan Stanley and holds an MA in International Education Policy Analysis from Stanford University and a BA in Development Economics from the University of Tokyo. More recently, Ms. Kobayashi was honored with the title of “Young Global Leader 2012” by the World Economic Forum, was selected as a “Change-maker of the Year 2013” and “Nikkei Woman of the Year 2014” by Nikkei Business, one of Japan’s top business magazines. She is currently a member of the Committee for Japan’s Future under the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, as well as a member of the Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding, Cabinet Secretariat.