FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
By Artur Ojoga
Marking the launch of our website and with the return of extracurricular activities on campus, TIU IRSA felt that a recap of our performance and activities would be in order. We hope that our story was, is, and will continue to be one of healthy incremental growth and efficient problem-solving. Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about us!
Tokyo International University’s International Relations Student Association (IRSA) was officially established as a circle in the Spring 2021 Semester. The original idea was the result of fruitful cooperation between our Academic Advisors, our founding members, and the school administration. Inherently, the Association was born out of a desire to give an extra voice to the community of international students at TIU by organizing student-led events and by providing support to our fellow classmates.
The launch preparations were extensive and, ultimately, rewarding. Under the guidance of our Academic Advisors (Dean Akitoshi Miyashita, Prof. Hak Yin Li, and Prof. Barbara Greene), the founding members created an organization with fixed teams, an official bylaw, and efficient management. We also took good care of our Public Relations, as IRSA got its own design identity that is constantly followed and developed via publications on our Social Media. Under the leadership of our first executives (Hoa, Hanh, and Masha), we started our first recruitment procedures and gathered a lot of like-minded students.
IRSA began its official work with two seminars and 3 ongoing reading groups. These seminars, led by Prof. Lamont (IR Research Skills 101) and Prof. Mema (Career Prospects in Think Tanks) were successful events that provided unique opportunities to foster a close knit community of students at TIU, which was especially important in the context of the pandemic and the online nature of classes. Furthermore, the topics have been met with universal praise, as they provided useful guidelines and suggestions covering both our current academic performance and our future careers.
On this note, it is also worth mentioning that, with these two events, we also showcased our equal interest in both activities related to specific research topics and to careers, thus combining the value of learning and utility. This philosophy has been continued with seminars led by Prof. Honig (Pursuing a Graduate Program) and Dr. Kaho Yu (IR and the Private Sector), both events having a clear benefit to a diverse range of students.
As for the Reading Groups, this format has shown that there certainly is a community of avid readers at TIU. Students, inspired by materials that they have been introduced to in their classes, were now working together to advance their knowledge on these topics. Through trial and error, we also developed the format of the Reading Group into one that accommodated smoother novice academic readers and allowed for more flexibility in terms of the topic choice. We are sure to keep conducting reading group sessions, so stay tuned!
That being said, this streak of academic and career-related activities was also successfully blended with some social events. More specifically, IRSA hosted Trivia Nights, a Movie Night, and even a Student-Faculty Bonding Event. These activities successfully introduced IRSA to a larger audience of students on campus and were good opportunities to relax and have a friendly chat with everyone. Following the same aim, we also collaborated frequently with J-Track students on their events. Since then, we continue to work hard on improving mutual understanding and cooperation between J-Track and E-Track students.
After one year of work, we had elections. With the new executives (Artur, Lily, and Masha), we had the occasion of hosting on-campus activities and launching projects that we have prepared since the inception of our Association.
An example of such a long-term project is the Undergraduate Working Paper Series (UPS). The project is, essentially, a contest where students submit papers from their classes, with the best submitters receiving the opportunity to interact with a scaled-down Editorial Process. Our end goal is to provide models of good writing among our students, to bring into the spotlight interesting research topics, and to turn UPS into a beautiful annual tradition at TIU. At this stage, papers have already been submitted and the Editorial Process is in full action, thus be on the lookout for updates in the near future!
We were also very happy to host another social event that made us of our Campus – the IRSA Treasure Hunt. During this activity, our participants showcased their knowledge of IR trivia in order to advance in the competition, all while keeping a competitive pace and acting showing a deductive way of thinking. The event was also a success from an organizational standpoint, as IRSA mobilized an unprecedented amount of resources in order to come up with entertaining games, staff, and even prizes.
With that, we reach the present, namely the moment when we are launching our website. TIU IRSA has been an interesting experience for us, its members, and we hope that we can also make it a worthwhile commitment for future event attendees. With us being now an organization officially integrated into the TIU’s School of International Relations and with all the new resources that we acquired, we also acknowledge that our mentors have put a lot of trust in us, and we are surely not here not to disappoint, but to over-deliver. Thank you for everyone’s continuous support of TIU IRSA!