What image does the phrase university study bring to mind? We believe a crucial difference between study at high school and study at university is that at university, your studies have a far deeper connection to the local community. This spring, many of the students who sat the Fukushima University entrance examinations did so because they wished to do voluntary work in the region. What prompted them to come here was the fact that voluntary activities could form the practical component of their studies. Since immediately after the earthquake, students have been participating in a wide range of volunteer activities including helping at evacuation centers, removing debris and mud, cleaning up disaster-affected homes, and collecting donations. In recognition of their efforts, the university made a decision to offer academic credit for volunteer activities under the Self-Study Program, which is an existing subject offering one credit for 45 hours and two credits for 90 hours spent in volunteer activities during the academic year. The university believes that encouraging students to participate in volunteer activities will not only lead to their much-needed support for disaster-affected areas but also to the cultivation of greater student autonomy, initiative, and social awareness - the original objectives of the Self-Study Program.
One example of this kind of learning has been the volunteer learning support provided by students to children whose surroundings were constantly changing as they moved from evacuation centers to temporary housing immediately after the earthquake. Students discovered that any location could be a place for study and that they could bring smiles to the faces of the children through the efforts. The local community can teach you things that you will never learn on campus. In other words, the local community represents reality. The reality in Fukushima prefecture today is a story of post-disaster recovery. It is also a story of rebirth. When faced with a research model that is completely new, students need the ability to unhesitatingly assert their own thoughts and standpoints, and the ability to think together with others to find ways to overcome difficult situations. They also need the excellent communication skills necessary to put these abilities into practice.
Fukushima University wants its students to be able to use their imagination in difficult circumstances. Don't hold back just because you are a student. You will be pleasantly surprised at how the outcomes that you have thought about and announced have an impact on the world.