Through the acquisition of language, a world of immeasurable growth and contribution lies ahead

Asuka Nagasawa
4th year student
Department of English Studies
Faculty of Foreign Studies

“In the future, I would like to work for an international organization and contribute to the creation of a sustainable environment,” says Asuka Nagasawa, a student of the Department of English Studies. She is studying environment and sustainability at the Graduate School of International and Development Studies in Geneva while also pursuing an internship.

The joy of expanding my understanding of culture, history, and people through language acquisition

I started thinking about the differences between the Japanese and English education systems in junior high school. I had lived abroad for a long time, but I had the opportunity to attend a Japanese junior high school for only six months. At that time, I learned that there were many more children in Japan than I had expected who wanted to use English to learn about the world and spread their love for Japan. What environment and tools would be necessary to help realize these goals? This question led me to think that I would first like to improve English education in Japan to shorten the distance between these children and the rest of the world.

I chose the Department of English Studies because, in addition to my passion for English education, I was interested in the English language itself and wanted to deepen my knowledge of international society. I had the option of attending an American university, but I chose Sophia without hesitation based on factors such as tuition and educational standards.

The Department of English Studies at Sophia is not simply a department where you learn English, but a department where you study English as a language. The most appealing aspect of the Department of English Studies is that students can study the culture and history of English-speaking countries and regions while strengthening their English. Through language, we can learn about the people who speak that language and understand their countries.

Many students in our department aspire to study or work abroad, but on the other hand, many also have a strong interest in social issues. It was really valuable for me to meet and build relationships with them, which led to us being able to discuss our awareness and views of the world without feeling overbearing. The backgrounds of the professors are also very diverse. Every time I learned from teachers with various specialties, such as those who had taught abroad for many years, those who studied literature, and those who were involved in film production, my horizons broadened.

Expanding the scope of my interests while enjoying the sensation of learning

What I have improved the most since entering Sophia University is my ability to verbalize my thoughts. Generally, students take classes passively in high school, following a set curriculum. But in my department, many classes are small. Immediately after enrollment, students are given frequent opportunities to give presentations and hold discussions in English in class, which naturally increases the amount of time and quantity of output. I no longer resist verbalizing my thoughts, both in terms of feelings and skills.

In classes where we had to choose our own research themes, formulate and test hypotheses, and when original ideas and values emerged, we discussed them with other students. Through output, receiving feedback, and making corrections, we gained experience in incorporating them into our own lines of thinking. This procedure is an important part of the learning process, so compared to lecture-style classes, I had an overwhelmingly strong feeling that I was actively learning and researching. It was also an opportunity for me to reevaluate where my interests lie.

In fact, my interests have expanded from English education in Japan to international relations. This is because I myself have become more interested in global issues. At Sophia, there are daily opportunities to learn about international issues, such as events co-sponsored by the United Nations and seminars held by institutes, so I have many chances to think about what I can do in a global society.

In addition, the Department of English Studies has a volunteer group (STP) that teaches English to students during their summer vacation. I have visited Cambodia four times as part of this activity. Through the experience of teaching English to local junior high school students, I was able to rethink how I can contribute to the international community.

With each step I take, I come closer to realizing my dream of working for an international organization

I am currently studying abroad at the Graduate School of International and Development Studies in Geneva through the “3+2” program offered by Sophia University, majoring in Environment and Sustainability. Generally, it takes six years to obtain a master’s degree from a university and a graduate school, but this program allows me to earn a bachelor’s degree from Sophia University and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of International and Development Studies in Geneva in only five years.

In the future, I would like to work for an international organization and contribute to the creation of a sustainable environment. Through my studies so far, I have realized that it really takes the cooperation of many people to bring solutions to complex problems in the international community, and I would like to be involved in the formulation of policies and regulations to this end. In the Department of English Studies, I studied the formation process of the American-led world order after World War II and international cooperation theory, which addresses the solution to global issues from the standpoint of citizens, and I would like to make full use of this knowledge.

In order to realize my dream, I am also doing an internship at a company that provides sustainability-related consulting services in parallel with my studies. This job is very challenging, as it requires me to analyze trends in international organizations and the international community while keeping an eye on the market economy. Looking forward, I plan to use my experience here to further my career at organizations such as nonprofits that lobby at the United Nations. However, there must be more than one way to reach my goal, so I will continue to keep my antenna up and explore various possibilities as they present themselves to me.

※Please note that the content of this article is current as of November 2021

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