SIJ Closing Remarks




Closing message from SIJ President and Founder Mari Hirotsuru August 7, 2016 

Thank you parents and guests for joining us today here at the SIJ 2016 Final Presentation. Thank you students for your seven-days of hard endeavor and engagement. I hope you had a wonderful time by sharing your ideas with your peers, learning a variety of new skills, observations and solutions from the 9 instructors from Harvard. Thank you Team Harvard for making this year’s program possible.  I hope you had an unforgettable experience in Japan that you will take with you on all the wonderful adventures that lay ahead of you. And don’t forget, you will always have a second home waiting for you in Oita.  And thank you Team Oita for all the great support you provided us before, after, and during the seminar.


Before you leave for your destination, I’ll talk a little about what you have learned besides all the studies here at SIJ, which is “sharing stories.”


Do you know the story “The Rainbow Fish” written by Marcus Pfister? This is a story about the most beautiful fish in the ocean, and he knew it. He had many many sparkling silver scales of which he was so proud. He was so proud that he refused to play with the other fish, he just swam the ocean displaying his beautiful shimmer.


One day a little blue fish said to him: “Please give me one of your beautiful scales” but he refused to give him any. And that made him very lonely. However, after the advice from the wise octopus who told him to give one scale to each of the other fish, he became less beautiful and became the happiest fish in the ocean with a lot of friends swimming happily around him.


This book doesn’t say “You should give away your most important possessions to other people” nor “You should give up your most important items for the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” Or “Generally speaking, people don’t like those who brag about their own success.”

There are 3 important pieces of advice in this story.

First, your most precious assets are not what other people can easily take away from you.  They exist deep inside of you, and may be immediately obvious.  Your beauty, kindness, knowledge, bravery, creative brilliance, self-expression skills, physical strength, are all powers that make you shine from inside.

Second, the more you share, the more you are liked. This is how you make friends with other people. What is good about making a lot of friends? You can share your happiness with your friends and you are all happy together. When you are sad, you can share sadness with your friends and they can help you overcome your sadness to become happy again.

Third, you can change the world by sharing your own ideas with other people. Like the Rainbow Fish in this book, sharing means a part of your treasured item or idea becomes one of the important parts of other people. In this way, your idea or asset passes onto many other people and this circle of people can go spread further than you might think. Consequently, you can change the world! You are the future!


As you can see, this is how SIJ has developed over the past four years. This is how all the 9 instructors from Harvard have supported you in and outside of the class at SIJ. They share their own very important things with you for seven days. I hope you all received the treasures that they provided, not only English learning or workshop activities, but also “the importance of sharing your own stories.”

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!  It is thanks to the incredible efforts of all the people in this room, and all those who couldn’t be with us today, that I have been able to make my humble vision into reality. 

Once again, thank you and see you again in 2017.

August 5, 2016 Oita, Japan