Student’s Voice 1 -Risa Akiyama-

About Me

I was born in Kagawa Prefecture and spent my early childhood in Okayama. Then, I lived in the United States on and off for a total of five years before coming back to Okayama to finish school. Now, I’m in my third year at the Discovery Program, and currently studying abroad at the National University of Singapore on a privately funded program.

When the time came to choose a university, it was a difficult process for me because I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I was worried about which department to choose, but in the end I settled on the Discovery Program at Okayama University. The program allows me to take classes with a diverse student body, while staying close to home and spending time with my family in Okayama. Before I enrolled, I had a chance to talk with a professor from the Discovery Program, and I was fascinated by the fact that students from around the world could study liberal arts here in Okayama.

In addition to its own cultural appeal, Okayama City is a SDGs Future City*. Students interested in environmental issues can conduct research here. The local culture in Okayama is something you can’t experience in a big city, and the sense of community is strong here.

The Discovery Program

There were many times in the Discovery program when my beliefs were challenged. I developed the ability to ask myself questions like “Is this really the norm?” By working with students from around the world for group work, presentations, and discussion, I believe that I have been able to strengthen my communication skills. Though I had previously been to international school, I feel that the Discovery Program is more diverse: With learners from various cultural groups, it is truly an invigorating learning environment. Each student brings their own unique perspectives, values, and goals, making their own path for the future.

Connecting the Future

I’m interested in journalism, and I hope to become an international correspondent in the future. After returning from Singapore, I would like to deepen my knowledge through an internship working with the Japanese media.

Because the Discovery Program is so new, it is very flexible. When I entered the program in its first year, students were surprisingly proactive and gave feedback to professors in order to improve the Discovery Program as a whole.

Currently, I am creating a media platform called “Humans of GDP” to help build a stronger community within the program, as well as to promote the Discovery Program to potential students. Taking initiative like this is encouraged in the program, and it is quite exciting to see something created for students by a student. Overall, I can already say that I will cherish the connections I made during my four years in the Discovery Program in the future.
(Interviewed by Aalto International, March 2020)

*Selected cities and regions that promote fundamental and comprehensive initiatives in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with high potential to achieve sustainable development by creating new shared value, particularly in the aspects of economy, society, and the environment.