Thursday 19 Oct 2023
DSAS Graduates Joey Zhang

Waseda University

Waseda University (早稲田大学, Waseda Daigaku), abbreviated as Sōdai (早大), is a Japanese private research university in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Founded in 1882 as the Tōkyō Senmon Gakkō by Ōkuma Shigenobu, the school was formally renamed Waseda University in 1902.

Waseda has graduated many notable alumni, including seven Prime Ministers of Japan, numerous important figures of Japanese literature, including Haruki Murakami, and many CEOs, including Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of UNIQLO, Nobuyuki Idei, the former CEO of Sony, Takeo Fukui, the former president and CEO of Honda, Norio Sasaki, the former CEO of Toshiba, Lee Kun-hee, the Chairman of Samsung Group, Mikio Sasaki, the former Chairman of Mitsubishi, and Hiroshi Yamauchi and Shuntaro Furukawa, former and current Presidents of Nintendo respectively.

Joey Zhang,DSAS Grade 12 student

With her optimistic personality and positive attitude, Joey Zhang was able to get along well with students of all nationalities and became good friends. Known as the "English Talent" by her classmates and teachers, Joey received offers from leading universities, including Waseda University, Chuo University and Hosei University, Ritsumeikan University, University of Toronto, University of Melbourne and University of New South Wales. With her talent in languages, she finally found her ideal place.

Small Community,Broad Vision

Before transferring to DSAS, Joey studied at a K12 international school, had experience on how to deal with various issues that come with different cultural backgrounds and was able to understand the conflicts and contradictions that may arise. Thus, she adapted well to the multicultural environment at DSAS, where she has learnt to respect and understand each other, and has tried to learn to find and consider issues from different perspectives, forming her initial understanding of 'international relations'.

Joey has transformed from a traditional Chinese girl into a female leader with strong dialectical thinking ability. Sticking to her hobbies and dreams, Nanwai King’s College School nourishes Joey’s free soul and allows her to truly become the person she wants to be.

——Teresa Chen, University Counseling Coordinator

"Schools are a microcosm of society. I once read a report which talked about the whole process, from production to consumption of an iPhone, is like the epitome of global cooperation, with different countries responsible for software development, hardware support and parts assembly. After such a process, the participating enterprises in all countries receive varying profits because of differences in the division of labor, although the greatest profits are shared by the countries responsible for software and hardware. Although many people think that such a distribution of profits is unfair, I believe that it is the different pricing that arises according to the difficulty of production that gives countries the opportunity to participate in the world economic cycle and to make their own profit. “That is the driving force behind my desire to learn about international relations", said Joey. In her point of view, there are various barriers in the contemporary world, both economic and cultural. Joey is aware that breaking down barriers requires courage. Therefore, her ambition is to be a courageous individual who dares to tell the truth and to work with like-minded people to solve the challenges of cross-cultural integration. Compared to her junior high school, which was a public school, Joey believes that international schools have stronger inclusiveness, giving students more opportunities to explore and solve problems.

Studying in an international school with teachers and students from all over the world has not only improved Joey's sensitivity to language but has also helped develop a deep appreciation for other cultures. Getting along with students and teachers from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Pakistan and many other countries, Joey feels like a ‘duck to water’. The excellent language environment has helped her speak English more smoothly, express herself more accurately and communicate more confidently. The rapid improvement in her English language skills helped her win the Wuxi City championship and runner-up in Jiangsu Province in the high school category of the ‘21st Century Cup’ English Speaking Competition. She was also awarded as an excellent volunteer lecturer at the National Museum of China for her excellent English and Chinese explanations. At present, two English training institutions have hired her as an assistant teacher for TOEFL and IELTS.

Self-exploration under Multiculturalism

"Nanwai King’s College School is an international school and the unique cultural environment has inspired me and my classmates to be curious about different cultures. There are not many Japanese students on campus, but I have made a good friend in my house who is half-Chinese, half-Japanese, and we usually talk about Japanese culture, this kind of communication has created a strong desire to explore." The free environment at DSAS protects students' self-confidence to strive to reach their dream destinations with boundless love.

Since then, Joey has developed a strong curiosity about the history, culture and fine art of Japan. "I first had this passion through the animated works of Makoto Shinkai, a famous film director. I was fascinated by the peace and beauty portrayed in the films, and the wonderful transition between reality and fantasy. Later, I read masterpieces such as Genji monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu and Yukiguni by Kawabata Yasunari. I was deeply moved by the core concept of ‘mono no aware’ and was struck by the natural beauty and awe of what was presented."

At DSAS, we advocate inspirational learning, and our classroom is full of discussion and questions which cultivates Joey’s independent thinking ability. Even when she gets back home, she often discusses with her father about the significance of Japan's Meiji Restoration and why it was one of the few countries in Asia to successfully implement reforms at that time.

Similar questions continued to be asked, inspiring Joey to explore how European and Asian cultures could be integrated in a logical way. Ultimately, under Teresa Chen, her university counselor, Joey positioned Waseda University's SGU program (English International Program) as the main application direction for further study. "I was curious about Japanese culture and I was familiar with the cross-cultural ecology under the influence of a high degree of internationalisation in the SILS program in Waseda University which also fits her personality. “I am excited about the opportunities offered by the SILS program, where international students can explore Japanese culture from a multicultural perspective. Exploring various aspects of Japanese culture and society not only fits well with my interests, but also helps me to draw a conclusion from the various contradictions. This will be a key skill for me in my future career and life." said Joey. She is very much looking forward to the seminar-style teaching at SILS and hopes she can have deep discussions and idea exchanges under the guidance of professors in Waseda University soon.

Regain Confidence and Build Your Dream

During the application season, almost every student received a rejection letter. At the beginning of Joey’s application, she had gone through a very difficult time, but she was helped to regain her confidence by the guidance of Ms Teresa Chen, who actively contacted her subject teachers and helped her to clarify and plan the direction of her application. The application process in Japan is more complicated than in the UK and Canada, and it takes longer time, but Ms. Chen always helps her print and mail her documents patiently. Joey is grateful to Ms. Chan for her encouragement and support along the way.

The more time we spent together, the more we were able to find out her advantages. She was a very polite and caring little angel, and the interactions between us made the entire application season one of our sweetest memories: we had long talks to relieve pressure when our senior year became more stressful; when her grades dropped, we encouraged her to rebuild her confidence and catch up; and when receiving the offer from her dream school, we cheered together. ...... Every moment is treasured in my heart.

——Teresa Chen, University Counseling Coordinator

After clarifying the direction of her application, Joey wrote in her application essay: "I dream to become a media worker with an international perspective. My father is my role model who is an energetic, disciplined and optimistic man. He once won the first prize of the China Journalism Award for his coverage of Xuyi's agricultural projects. I hope to follow his example in the future and pursue a career in media communication, whether it be in the press or in the communications department of a transnational enterprise. A career in this field requires an insight into social affairs and a keen eye for social trends, which fits in well with my interests. I hope to use my talent for writing and critical analysis to inspire people and have a positive impact on society by working in media communications." In fact, showing one's personal aspirations and life expectations to the university is also a sign of sincerity. Joey has learnt from his father's experience that language is the foundation of media communication, whether the topic selection, interviews, editing or comments, all need strong language skills. The SGU programme at Waseda University pays particular attention to language teaching, both in English and Japanese, and there are numerous courses to help students improve, which has a similar language environment as DSAS. As a result, Joey is very confident with her learning ability and she believes that excellent language skills will help her immensely in life. She is also confident enough to present her life expectations to university admissions officers.

In a cultural diversity environment like DSAS, the advantage of language has helped Joey to increase the depth and width of her perception of the world which has also had a tremendous impact on her life goals. "The reason why people grow up is to go where they choose to go." The blueprint for her future is already unfolding. Be a better you, Joey!