When I first arrived at Tokyo Tech, one of my concerns as an international student was the challenge of making friends and forming meaningful relationships. I could have just decided to focus on academics, but I felt incomplete without a fruitful social life and a way to contribute to the student community. On the day of my orientation as a student here, I still remember the representatives of TISA eagerly introducing their organization to us, the new international students, and explaining that they needed more people to support the revival of face-to-face events in the post-pandemic era. I saw this as an opportunity to contribute to the student community at Tokyo Tech through fun and exciting events where we could bring together people from different nationalities, backgrounds, and cultures. Now in my second year as a TISA council member, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be one of the co-leaders of this organization along with my fellow student ambassador, Ayoob, and so in this blog I would like to introduce you to more of the event planning at TISA!
Among the many things Tokyo Tech International Students Association – TISA does to support the international student community at Tokyo Tech, social events are one of the most important. Done on a regular basis, these social events are held with the goal of allowing international students at Tokyo Tech to interact with each other and make new friends. They also aim to promote TISA events to Japanese students, who are also eager to make friends with international students at Tokyo Tech and gain international experience, cultural understanding, and language skills from within the university. Currently, TISA mainly holds regular events (once a month to once every two months), big semiannual welcome parties twice a year, and also internal events between council members and close friends for bonding purposes.
I think it is important to start by introducing our various divisions, all of which play an important role in our event planning. We have four main divisions: Events, Communications, Marketing, and Finance. Each of these divisions has its own leaders who meet as the Internal Affairs Committee to maintain communication and report on the progress of their respective division’s tasks. The leaders organize and run meetings, create tasks, schedules, and to-do lists, and generally provide feedback and coordination between council members. In addition, they step in to help with tasks if one of the divisions needs a helping hand.
The first step in event planning begins with our regular meetings, which are held in person at least once a month. However, it can also be done online depending on time, scheduling, and location constraints. We usually start with event ideas for the next two or three months before deciding on a date, time and location. We try to match the events to the season. For example, in late March or early April we usually do hanami (cherry blossom viewing) events. We discuss these together at meetings, after the Events Division comes up with ideas first.
Closer to the date of the event, we also create an event registration link and send an email promoting our event to the Tokyo Tech Student Support Center, which manages the international student newsletter. Recently, we also started using a digital calendar set up by Student Services to compile and notify people who have added the calendar to their digital applications. Sometimes we consult with our advisor and send proposals for approval and funding when needed, especially for larger events. During this time, the Marketing Division will also create posters and prepare post captions for social media promotion on a specific date and time. For larger events, available members will also print and place posters around campus. For the events, council members who can definitely attend on the set date will facilitate the event and, if necessary, make some reservations or prepare needed materials and equipment in advance.
Of all the events we do, the TISA Welcome Party is the largest, held twice a year in the spring and fall, around April-May and October-November. Compared to the other events, it requires more special preparation, and it usually starts 2 months before the scheduled date. Since we usually invite the president of Tokyo Tech and a representative from the Kuramae Alumni Association, we need to send a proposal early and contact the Student Support Center at Tokyo Tech to confirm their availability before setting a date.
We also need to send budget proposals and maintain correspondence. The communication team is very important, as sending and receiving emails from the Student Support Center in Japanese is an important task, and we need students with a high level of Japanese to work in the Communication Division. The Student Support Center helps with ordering food and drinks for the caterers, and with the prizes for the welcome party games, usually Tokyo Tech merchandise, both of which are normally ordered from the university co-op.
Marketing is also very important, so I am very grateful to have highly skilled graphic designers and social media managers in the TISA Council. In addition to starting promotions early, we are also recruiting volunteers as we need more people to facilitate the Welcome Party. Being a Welcome Party volunteer also serves as an opportunity for prospective council members to gain experience in how the TISA Council plans events. Photographers are also very important for documentation! We also do post-event reporting and appreciation posts on social media before compiling a post-event report that will be developed into an article for the Tokyo Tech homepage.
Within the council, we have events just for council members, such as trips to destinations like Izu. These fun trips are for council members to spend time together and get to know each other better. These bonding experiences are important for council members to develop a closeness so that when we are working for TISA, we can enjoy it more, because it is a chance to spend time with friends, we are also close to. We council members started out as strangers, but now it feels like we are family. From planning events together, we started hanging out for lunches, dinners, and even impromptu trips. Even council members who have graduated and are currently working in Japan keep in touch with us, and we invite each other to hang out.
In the past year and a half since I joined TISA, I have made many new friends, gained a lot of experience, and learned so many new skills that have made my life as an international student at Tokyo Tech more meaningful. I cherish the relationships I have made at TISA, and I am glad that I was able to contribute to the student life of this university. I am also grateful to our many qualified and passionate members who have made TISA the growing and thriving group that it is now. Thank you for reading this and I hope to see you at our events!
P.S. Check out this link for information on our social media, where we post about events and stuff!