This summer, I participated as the teaching side of a program called HLAB. HLAB is a nine-days long summer school that was founded in 2011 presenting a concept of “liberal arts beyond borders”. First started in Tokyo, and now, it has expanded to Obuse, Tokushima, and Tohoku, adding up to a total of 4 sites.
In this program, university students provide an opportunity for high school students from all over the country to encounter with a variety of people under an idea of “Liberal Arts” recognized as “a system that allows the utmost support in self-examination, finding an interest, and actively selecting ones’ desiring future.” The idea is covered in events such as seminars done by university students from all over the globe and free-interactions that recognize students to interact with the professionals.
As for myself, I was the House Leader (HL) of the Tokyo cite, proposing this year’s theme as “Meet the world, find yourself”. HLs are Japanese university students who are assigned to a house to spend most of the time with the house members. HLs have the responsibility to achieve this goal by acting as a mentor while staying in a close relationship with the high school students. Giving them assistance with their English during seminars is another task. The pressure of becoming a perfect role model once made me someone that I’m not. However, the kids reminded me that my genuine self is what makes me one of a kind to them. The best part of being an HL is that you get to see and take part in their progress as well as yours.
Before the actual program starts, HLs have meetings on monthly basis to prepare. Along with these meetings, HLs partner up with a seminar leader (SL), from overseas universities, and plan a seminar via skype or e-mails.
Through this program, I found myself “life long friends that can be called ‘family’”. When I look back to the nine long days, the first thing that comes up in my mind is the time I spent with my House 3 members. In this house, I got to cultivate both my social and personal thoughts. It was the most astonishing moment when one of the kids told me that they were glad to have me as their HL.
All of the participants, including university and high school students and professionals, were inspiring in each of their own ways. One time at lunch, I had a conversation with this girl about what to do if we had $10,000,000. I was shocked when she said that she would use it to invest it on producing goods from machine, such as 3D printers, so that it leads to enrichment of the lives in developing countries. It was embarrassing to say that I first thought of spending it on buying a house for myself, but at the same time, very motivating. Each and every day was stimulating to find new things through these kinds of extraordinary conversations even for university students.
I have the firm confidence to say that dedicating my summer to this program was a life changing experience, and I sincerely appreciate every member involved in it. HLAB is about to take off toward the invigorating summer 2016, and new members are wanted to make it even better.
Written by Moeko Aramaki