Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University


Notes from the President

My message to new APU graduates (Fall 2021 Graduation Ceremony)

Sep 17, 2021

Congratulatory Address from the Acting President

First, I would like to congratulate all the students on your graduation. You have made it to this day thanks to the support and encouragement of many people, including your classmates, friends, upperclassmen and underclassmen, staff, faculty, the people you met on off-campus programs and study abroad, and your bosses and co-workers at your places of employment. You were exposed to many cultures on APU’s global campus, and you overcame obstacles and doubts as you pursued your studies and research in globally oriented majors. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the guardians and families of today’s graduating class for supporting their studies. Please accept my sincerest congratulations on behalf of everyone at APU.

In the final year and a half 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.

On this occasion of your graduation, I would like to leave you with three parting messages.
First, I would like you to lead a moral life. To do this, you need “character,” and this is something you create yourself. In the life that lies ahead of you, your character will be determined by what you think, what you feel, and the actions you decide to take. I hope you will constantly think about whether your words, actions, and attitudes are those which you can be proud of. Just because an action isn’t breaking the law or will not be noticed by others does not make it right. The things you learned in elementary school—have courage, face your troubles head on, be honest, be loyal, and empathize with others—are truly meaningful once you become an adult and put them into practice.

Second, I want you to always be conscious of the fact that you have been given exceptional opportunities. Have you ever heard the story “If the World Were a Village of 100 People”? I will share part of it with you. “If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of people in the world.” “If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.” Not long after APU opened in 2001, this story circulated around the world as a well-meaning chain email edited by many people. So, we do not need to worry about the correct numbers right now. Here, what I want us all to do is think about if the basic message of this story is still relevant today, 20 years later. The fact that you all received an education at APU and were able to complete your studies without incident was not due to your efforts alone; where you were born and the environment in which you were raised are factors I don’t want you to forget. I hope that throughout the life that lies ahead, you will contribute to the happiness of the people of our world.

Third, I would like you to value everyone you meet. APU has developed one of the most diverse university campuses in the world. Students from many different countries and regions who have different cultures, customs, and religions come to study at APU. Based on the premise that APU students are diverse in culture and opinion, your experience learning to accept each other as individuals belonging to the same community is extremely valuable because our campus is the future of the world. I hope you will cherish this experience and value all the people you meet going forward. At the same time, I hope you will treasure the friendships you made at APU.

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.

In closing, I am sure you are all very worried about President Deguchi, who is currently recovering from an illness. He is making progress and was released from the hospital in early August. Now, he is giving best effort in rehabilitation to return to APU. I have talked with him a few times over Zoom and he appears to be in good spirits. Together, let us all pray for his speedy recovery.

I wish you all the best in your future life. Once again, congratulations on your graduation.

Hiroshi Yoneyama
Vice President / Acting President
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
September 17, 2021

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