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Entrance Ceremony for 2019 Held
On April 1, 2019, Aoyama Gakuin University held an entrance ceremony at the Aoyama Gakuin Memorial Hall in Aoyama Campus. AGU welcomed 5,131 new students, including 4,585 undergraduate students, 330 graduate students and 216 professional graduate students. At the ceremony, President Yoshikazu Miki gave his last welcome speech as a President to new students.
"Dear incoming students, congratulations on starting your new life at our university. On behalf of Aoyama Gakuin University, I would like to welcome you and congratulate you on your enrollment while sharing my heartfelt joy with your family and all others concerned."
This is the type of address I would ideally deliver to you as head of the university. However, I find it difficult to fully express myself using my clumsy English, and because this will be the last time I speak to you as AGU president, I will deliver my address in Japanese.
When I spoke to our new students at the start of the 2016 and 2017 academic years, I mentioned that, following the 2016 change in Japanese law which lowered the voting age from twenty to eighteen, all present were eligible to vote under our nation's democratic system. I then warned those students that the failure to make voting decisions based on accurate information with academic credibility runs the risk of promoting populist trends, which can be highly dangerous, and urged all students to study diligently as they exercised their voting responsibilities.
At the start of the 2018 academic year, I proposed three specific challenges for students entering the university, asking that they complete one of them by graduation: (1) read at least 100 books per year, (2) acquire certifications relevant to each student's chosen school, college or faculty, and (3) join an exchange program at one of Aoyama Gakuin University's roughly 150 partner institutions.
The university vice presidents and I described these three challenges in German, French and Chinese as well, dividing up responsibility for preparation in each language amongst ourselves. It was our hope that this would help students better understand just how many languages other than English are spoken around the world. This year, we will also be offering our first Legal Interpreter Training Course, starting things off with Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese, as a collaborative program with the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
Now it comes time for me to deliver my message for incoming students joining us in the 2019 academic year. Allow me to start by telling you that the ways in which you spend your next four years here will undoubtedly have a major impact on the rest of the long lives that await you. You have two choices: to spend the next four years working hard, improving yourself, and then enjoying a fulfilling life after graduation, or to spend the next four years just playing around and having fun, barely scraping by with grades in order to graduate, and then spending the rest of your life struggling. The choice is yours.
Aoyama Gakuin University offers numerous ways for each of you to build a better future for yourself, and I hope you find your ideal path sooner rather than later. The best way to discover this path will most likely be through interactions with your professors—if you find a teacher whose ideas and teaching appeals to you personally, take some time to look into their areas of study and research. If you're lucky, you will find a teacher who is serious about their research and provides interesting and unusual lectures as well, in which case I recommend you try reading some of their papers and other publications. By doing this, you may discover a new side to yourself, one that blossoms into something spectacular.
The things you study in university will surely become things that excite you in life, that you love. Humankind today only knows a fraction of what there is to learn in our universe—we don't even know why we are alive, or what "life" truly is. I hope you will cherish your curiosity, your questions, and search out professors whose lectures and teachings enthrall you.
Outside of the classroom as well, Aoyama Gakuin University and its surroundings are filled with various things that can bring fascination and discovery in your everyday lives. If you keep your eyes open and focus on these in an open and honest way, you will surely benefit from them; if, however, you allow your vision to become clouded and thus close yourself off to these opportunities, you run the risk of adversely affecting your own future. There is a fine line between success and failure in this regard, so I urged you to keep your eyes peeled and focus on what is truly important you during your time at the university.
Some of you may attempt to take on a part-time job alongside your academics. As one last word of advice, I recommend avoiding, if at all possible, taking a job during your university years. Every year, there are always some students who attempt work and study at the same time, which leads them to focus more on work than study and causes their day-night cycles to get out of sync, ultimately preventing them from making it to graduation. These students have sold the most important period of their lives for a paltry wage of 1,000 yen per hour—what a waste! Please spend these four years focusing on your education so that, after graduation, you can achieve the fulfilling lives you have always wanted.
"I earnestly hope that your four years here at Aoyama Gakuin University will be an invaluable and unforgettable experience, and I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations and warmest welcome to you all."