It was a meaningful experience for our team members to brainstorm about potential ways to improve the academic and social interactions of the international students at the School of Political Science and Economics (SPSE) through the official “PSE Event Proposal Competition.” To formulate a feasible event proposal, we gathered some ideas from our fellow classmates and interviewed some senpais who have graduated from the English-based Degree Program (EDP). The senpais, who are right now working at various companies and studying at postgraduate or Ph.D. programs around the world, have told us about the experiences they had during their Advanced Seminars or “Zemis” when they were third- and fourth-year undergraduate students at the EDP. We found that through taking various professors’ Zemis which focused on a range of topics in Economics, Political Science, and their intersections, the senpais built personal bonds with their peers and professors, and each Zemi had its unique type of “culture” or “atmosphere” and its own interesting stories.
Therefore, by proposing an “EDP Zemi Conference” where we invite “Zemi Representatives” who are senpais and alumni from each Zemi to share their Zemi stories with kohais in the form of presentations and Q&A sessions, our hope is that EDP students and alumni could establish an on-going network for valuable information sharing. We believe that such a platform would make it easier for future EDP students to choose the Zemis that fit their academic interests and career goals and that formal and informal discussions during this conference would enhance the learning experience for new EDP students. We also believe that Zemis are potential starting points for lifelong friendships! By listening to the voices of the current EDP students, we are convinced that they are very interested in hearing about how their senpais decided their Zemis, wrote their theses, and chose their career paths after graduation.
We think that making the “EDP Zemi Conference” happen and building a senpai-kohai network to share course information, study tips, and job-hunting advice regularly would precisely cater to the students’ demands. Although we are proposing our first conference in an online format, we are hoping that in-person conferences could become possible in the future. After our written proposal was selected as one of the seven nominated finalists, we entered the final round and orally presented our plan in front of the SPSE professors and students online. While listening to the other teams’ presentations and the audience’s feedback, we felt that it was encouraging to imagine a bright future for the SPSE together like a big family despite the current COVID-19 pandemic. We are very honored to have received the “Best Global Award” (https://www.waseda-pse-events.com/わせつな/winners) and we are looking forward to actually implementing this conference someday! Lastly, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Prof. Michiko Ueda, Prof. Munechika Katayama, and many other faculty organizers of this competition for their kind support and constructive comments.