Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

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Students supporting international students on campus

Feb 28, 2005

Vibrant multicultural exchange at AP House - Interview with Student Resident Assistants at AP House.

AP House is located on the APU campus and students from Japan and abroad live together under the one roof. There are two dormitories: AP House 1 and AP House 2, which are well-equipped and can accommodate approximately 900 students.

Student Staff referred to as Resident Assistants (RA) provide around-the-clock support to international students, many of whom are first-timers to Japan. Spotlight recently visited AP House and asked five RA's first-hand about what it's like to live amidst such a cross-cultural environment.
Currently, there are a total of 42 RAs at AP House with 2 on each floor. The nationalities of the RAs are varied and include boarders from China, Korea, Indonesia, India, Bulgaria and Nigeria. More than half are international students in their later years of study at APU. Students wishing to become RAs undergo documentary screening and interviews.

The RAs job commences as soon as the new students set foot in the country. The RAs meet and welcome the students at their arrival point in Beppu and assist with their luggage. They also show students the ropes around campus and AP House. RAs introduce the newcomers to their neighbors on the same floor, and endeavor to build friendly relations and make the students' transition to life at AP House as smooth as possible.

In order to foster exchange amongst the residents, the RA organize regular floor parties. They also assist and mingle with the students while they carry out their daily rubbish duties. The RAs strive to get to know the international students one-by-one. Many events are organized to encourage exchange such as a Welcome Party, Countdown Party, Sports Events and a Summer Festival. As part of end-of-year events, the RAs organize mochitsuki (rice cake making), shodou (calligraphy) and other activities to introduce Japanese New Year's culture.

According to UENO Kentaro (2nd-year), the RAs hold a meeting once a week and share information. Various topics are discussed including consideration of religion and whether any students are experiencing homesickness. UENO hopes that students during their year-long stay at AP House can become accustomed to the lifestyle in Japan and can take such things as garbage separation knowledge with them when they move later to private dwellings in Beppu City.

KITA Aki, the RA sub leader (3rd-year) said that she hoped other boarders would recognize her as their equal - a fellow resident who is there to assist them. KITA said that interesting aspects of being a RA include: learning a great deal from one another, particularly in terms of different cultures, and that living in the dormitory feels like one big family.

A fellow RA, YAMAMOTO Dai (1st-year) acknowledged that the term of residence in AP House is limited (one-year), but hoped that he could assist the boarders, and that that upon leaving that they had enjoyed their time at AP House.

After both living in AP House for one-year, HUR Jin Sung (3rd-year, Korea) and ALATISE Johnson (3rd-year, Nigeria) decided to apply to become RAs. They expressed that the RAs had assisted them in various ways during their own stays to become accustomed to Japan and the different lifestyle and that they wanted to pass on similar information and the RA spirit to the new boarders.

Since becoming a RA, HUR said that he now thinks more about what he can do for AP House and is more active than before. He said that he found the words of former APU President, SAKAMOTO encouraging who said 'that he was very proud of the RAs and felt that they were a part of the world's best organization.'

The RAs will be busy again soon when they pick-up the new boarders on March 28 who are enrolled to start in April. I'm sure the newcomers will make AP House an even greater place to live!





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