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Mar 26, 2021
APU held its 2021 Spring Graduation Ceremony on Friday, March 19. To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the ceremony was split into two parts and moreover, conducted in a hybrid format, hosting both online and in-person participation. Typically, the ceremony is held at Beppu City’s B-con Plaza, but this year, APU decided to host the event on-campus at Millennial Hall. The decision gave graduating students, who in 2020 were forced by the pandemic to stay away from campus and attend most classes online, the opportunity to return to campus.
This year a total of 690 individuals, including both undergraduate and graduate students, successfully completed their degrees. Among this group were 216 international students, hailing from 28 different countries and regions, as well as 474 domestic students.
Among the graduates, about 30% participated through Zoom’s video conferencing system, while other students as well as the graduates’ friends and families watched livestreams conducted on both YouTube and Facebook.
Vice-President Hiroshi Yoneyama had this message for graduating students:
In the final year of your time at APU, we witnessed a global pandemic—a rare occurrence in human history. I’m sure you faced many inconveniences and anxieties, but you were able to continue your studies at APU while connecting with your friends scattered around the world, and you provided each other with encouragement as you headed towards graduation. I have nothing but the deepest respect for your resilience, or in other words, your ability to withstand adversity.
Today is the day when you stop being APU students and become APU alumni. Your activities as alumni will serve to enrich APU as a university, and this process of enrichment will, in turn, support your career development. In this sense, you will all remain members of the APU family.
―――You can read the full text of the Vice-President’s message here.―――
Representing the graduating students, winner of this year’s Ando Momofuku Award and Honor Prize Takemasa Oyama (APS) addressed the audience:
I spent every day in this sort of multicultural environment. However, what made me who I am now more than anything else during these four years was joining a seminar and writing a thesis. I was interested in the food that brings people together in daily life, and I decided I would like to research modern food culture academically. Also, I studied all the literature on food culture, but I wasn't able to do even the simple things, such as posing questions or properly answering those questions, which are the most important aspects of a thesis, and so I struggled. And during all this, my seminar professor persistently and kindly instructed me. Thanks to this, gradually I learned how to ask questions, I created a structure, and there was a time when I began to be able to see my thesis in its entirety. After a year's time had passed, the question I finally arrived at was "how is tradition in the brewing of modern Japanese sake maintained?"
To all of you students, who have gathered here from across Japan as well as from every country and region around the world, I believe that recognizing differing cultures in their diversity and being able to unite and develop as demanded by the circumstance of this new society, is the strength of APU students. Each person here would have passed through their student lives thus far in the place where they shine the brightest - in academics, extracurricular activities, community activities, etc. In my case, that place was my seminar research. Let us all fly out from APU with confidence and conviction in whatever it is we have devoted ourselves to and through which we changed and were able to create new networks.
To represent the graduate school students, Thi Huong Tang (Graduate School of Management, Viet Nam) also gave a speech. She stated:
As we graduate students only have 2 years here, having the whole 2nd year taken away by the pandemic is a huge loss. But still, I feel that our batch is lucky enough to have one full 1st year to experience APU life, the “old normal” APU campus life. We walked on the lively campus filled with students from all around the world, hearing all different languages. We sat in the same classroom with our fellows, listening to their unique stories and diverse opinions and we shared our own. We stood shivering in long lines, waiting to get on the bus, on cold, rainy, AND foggy days! The memories go on…
All those vivid colors, exciting sounds, and movements, all of a sudden, were replaced by social distancing, quarantining, #stayhome. Every “Real” thing became “virtual”, even Tenku Festival. Incredible! We all had to adjust the way we take classes, how we do research, how we live our life. We set up VPN from our home, canceled field trips, and changed our research topic. Our eyes and minds got sick because of too long screen hours. We got scared of group work, now totally online, with teammates we had never met in person. We struggled to manage our time as the lines between school and home got blurred. We were stressed, worried and confused.
But we were not alone. In such tough times, we supported and encouraged each other.
Despite all the Internet connection issues, we managed to submit our assignments.
(And to my Graduate School fellows, we managed to submit our research project/thesis.)
Despite all the online teamwork, we managed to finish courses and earn credits.
Despite uncertainties, we managed to get things done!
So, let’s give ourselves a big round of applause!
You can view the full ceremony by visiting the YouTube link below.