Opening Messages

Summer in JAPAN President and Founder: Mari Hirotsuru

Opening Speech Summer in JAPAN 2021

Dear SIJ students and parents, Team Harvard, consisting of current students and graduates, Team Oita staff members, and distinguished guests of honor, I am very happy to announce the commencement of the 9th Summer in JAPAN seminar, our second ONLINE summer school, which was made possible by the creativity and flexibility of our team.

Today I brought this picture from a very popular anime named “Sazae san” , which is a story of a typical Japanese family. This woman, Fune, is in her 50s just like me. She stays home as a housewife to take care of her family. Next to Fune is Namihei, her husband Namihei, aged 54 who works for a company in Tokyo to support his family. The fact that this TV anime, with its dated 1950s gender stereotypes, is still the most popular program in Japan demonstrates that these ideas persist today.
However, as I look at today’s youth , I see more and more women who don’t want to stay at home, who want to go out and change the world. And now we are in the year 2021, and so many things have changed: the number of working women has increased, the number of babies being born has decreased, and the number of people who consider marriage important has gone down.

Due to the advances of medical technology and healthcare, biologically speaking, Namihei’s 54 years of age in 1950 is the equivalent of being 74 years today. We now live a “100- year life” and to make the most of that, we need a clear vision of education, career and relationships. You start learning from birth, but you’ll find that over the course of your life, you often need to revise and adjust your thinking over and over again, to catch up with the changing needs of our soci- ety. From the time you start working, you will need to learn to market yourself in the ever-evolving economic battleground, all the while maintaining friendships with your old classmates and utilizing the high communicative skills needed to make new friends in every situation throughout the rest of your life.

And like Namihei, the kind of life you live will be seen by those who come after. We need to build a culture of lifelong-learning, to guide and inspire the youth of the future. My goal at SIJ is to ignite a passion for learning in everyone’s heart. A fire that I hope will still burn when you are 100.

I hope all the SIJ students take full advantage of this opportunity to enjoy learning, to discover what you love doing, and establish a lifelong love of learning under the guidance of our Team Harvard members: Allen, Jason, Mario, Sumire, Teddy, and Ton-Nu, and with the help of our members from Team Oita.

Finally, in 2022, when I host Summer in JAPAN to commemorate our 10th anniversary, let’s all meet in Oita City, in person, face-to-face, and enjoy the local foods, soak in the hot springs, dance at the festivals, practice Zen at the temples, and make a difference in education with your new friends.