ICU 2014 Spring Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President


Junko Hibiya

All freshmen and graduate students, welcome to ICU. Congratulations to all family members who are watching this ceremony from the Diffendorfer Memorial Hall.

ICU was founded in 1953, as the first university in Japan with international in its name. Since then, it has aimed to nurture leaders for the international community for 60 years. From the founding days, the ICU community has been that of diversity, with faculty, staff and students from different cultures. You will meet many new people here on campus. The encounter with those with different backgrounds will enable you to take a fresh look at yourself in relation to others. You will also have the opportunity to study at institutions of higher education around the world while you study here.

At ICU, we have various study abroad programs including a three-week intensive summer program at a university in Hong Kong, or a one year exchange program at one of our partner schools at 66 universities in 21 countries. Outbound students number approximately 460 a year. When you take part in an exchange program, you will be graded on classwork, discussions, tests, and reports. The credits you earn during the program will be authorized as credits back at ICU after the designated procedures. Some of you may be already planning to participate.

What is the meaning of study abroad in college? Your motivation to participate may be to hone your language skills, experience a new culture, or enhance your knowledge in a specific field. You might think it would look good on your résumé at your job interview.

Last autumn, an ICU student studying at a college in the U.S. on the exchange program sent me mail. She wrote to tell me how she was doing a month after she arrived in September: it was her first trip abroad. The encounter with new people every day had a great impact on her. But she also felt she had parts of her that remained unchanged. She was taking a fresh look at herself in relation to others and finding her place in a new environment.

She also wrote that she felt gratified to be studying at university. Prior to her stay in the U.S., she had taken for granted that she would enter university right after she graduated from high school. She was thrilled to enter ICU, her first choice, and had spent her days enjoying school and extracurricular activities. In the U.S., she befriended those who had fought in wars, taken a circuitous road to college due to financial reasons, lost a friend to racial war, or worked for a time before entering university for children suffering from HIV/AIDS. They had experienced things beyond her imagination. I think realizing the privilege of being a student was the greatest gift of her days in the U.S. Just making the move from high school to university is a grand transition, where you will explore new spheres in life, but going abroad will give you a completely new perspective. What you took for granted can be overturned.

Have you heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? It is a common framework for the 2000 U.N. Millennium Summit Millennium Declaration and the international development goals adopted at conferences throughout the 90s. The year 2015 was set as the target for eight international development goals. The second on the list is to achieve universal primary education: by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, would be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Markers for the target are: adjusted net enrollment rate in primary education, completion of primary education, and literacy among those between 15 to 24 years of age. A progress report from the U.N. posits that the proportion of school-age children in primary school was 97% in developed countries, but 76% in countries south of the Sahara. The latter has improved from 58% in 1999 and 68% in 2004, but one in four still cannot even attend primary school.

As the ICU student writing to me noticed, it is an immense privilege to be studying at university. So much is at your disposal. Prepare yourselves for service when you will be responsible for and obliged to do great things: do make the most of your life at ICU. I wish you all a fulfilling experience here. Welcome to ICU.