Apr 2, 2019
On behalf of everyone at APU, I extend my sincerest congratulations to all of you on your enrollment. I would also like to congratulate all of the parents and guardians of the new students and other members of the audience here for today’s entrance ceremony.
I would like to talk to you about three topics today as you embark on your academic life here at APU.
First, let’s think about the meaning that the age of 18 holds. There are many countries in the world, and most of them consider 18 to be the age at which adulthood begins. Japan is also moving in this direction, having already lowered its voting age to 18.
In other words, all of you here today are already adults. A human becoming an adult is akin to a wild animal leaving its parents to set out on its own. You must figure out how to live independently and make the money you need to eat and survive. In both your words and your actions, you have become independent.
The age of 18 is also important for one more reason. According to studies, our motivation to learn and ability to develop study habits peaks around the age of 18 or 19.
People who develop solid study habits and a motivation to learn while at university will maintain those habits and remain motivated to learn even after they enter the real world. What's more, it has been proven that people who continue to learn even after they enter the workforce earn more money over their lifetimes. In short, the learning that you engage in when you are 18 or 19 years old is critical to leading an enriching and enjoyable life. Your first challenge as independent 18-year-olds is to develop study habits and the motivation to learn to the best of your ability.
Secondly, I hope you will discover your aspirations and interests during your time here at APU. The most enjoyable challenge in life is to do what you want to do or what you like. But don’t worry if you cannot figure out what you want to do right away. People who don’t know what they want or what they like far outnumber those who do. If you can’t find what it is you want to do, you can take solace in the fact that you belong to the majority.
Until not too long ago, the common wisdom was that it was important for students to acquire a broad range of knowledge in a well-rounded fashion at universities. More recently, however, studies have shown that learning outcomes improve both qualitatively and quantitatively when you devote yourself to things that you like. I hope you will all try your hand at many things so that you may discover what truly motivates you. The faculty and staff here at APU will provide you with all of the support you need to pursue your studies in a manner of your own choosing. If you lose your way, do not hesitate to ask a faculty or staff member for help at any time. Of course, you are also more than welcome to come visit my office.
Thirdly, I hope you will venture out into the world. While you are at APU, I would like to see you take advantage of study abroad and other opportunities to live overseas. You must do more than just go sightseeing; you cannot fully understand a country until you actually live there.
In this respect, APU is the ideal learning environment. APU is home to nearly 3,000 international students from approximately 90 countries and regions. It is a microcosm of the world, a “Young United Nations,” if you will. There is nowhere else in Japan with this kind of enriching campus environment. I hope you will all make the most of the opportunities APU affords and go see the world.
The simplest way to do this is to visit the hometowns of your friends from other countries. To be direct, I believe that humans cannot truly understand diversity until they live in a foreign country. Please remember that diversity is the mother of all innovation.
Before I conclude, please allow me to offer one more piece of advice. I hope you will seek to expand your horizons at APU by meeting many people, reading many books, and traveling far and wide. To give you some advice from this old man, the only way to get smarter is through people, books, and travel. I love to read, so I’ve provided you with a list of books I’d like you all to read. Remember: studying is not a solo effort. Working alongside your classmates and learning from them is how you can internalize knowledge. This is why I hope you all make some great friends during your time at APU.
Finally, one of my favorite sayings is “Dream bigger. Reach higher.” I hope this is exactly what all of you will do on the APU campus. I sincerely hope your time at university is happy, healthy, and full of excitement. Once again, congratulations on your enrollment.
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
April 1, 2019