The Northeast Asian Network (NEAN) is a student forum hosted by Yonsei University, Korea, for the support of developing young leaders who promote the politics and economics of the Northeast Asia region including Korea, China and Japan. During the forum, students divided into sessions on politics, business, education, the environment and law, and considered the future of East Asia through debate and group work.
Ryosuke Koyama, a 4th year student in the Faculty of Policy Studies, received the Best Delegate Award for the business category on Ethical and Social Responsibilities of Northeast Asian Businesses. This award is granted to a person in each session among the 150 participants at NEAN2012 (Feb. 6 – 11, 2012).
We interviewed Ryosuke Koyama:
What led you participate in NEAN?
A friend participated in NEAN2009, and recommended that I try out my own ability on the International stage. Exceptional students gathered from China and Korea, and it was a valuable experience that I could not have received in Japan. Even after returning home, I am still motivated to keep a strong will and attitude toward studying continuously.
What do you do at NEAN?
The program is five days long and forums are divided into five sessions on politics, business, education, the environment, and law. Students from each country all arrived and took part in ice-breakers on the first day. The last day is for city sightseeing and events introducing the culture. The actual forum is a tight schedule of 3 days.
Lectures on themes for each session are given by specialists in their respective fields and then discussed. Students divide into small mixed groups of Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, etc., and prepare presentations related to a specified issue on the final day.
As the overall theme of this NEAN was Shifting World Order: Northeast Asia’s New Direction, the theme New Guidelines toward the future of East Asia was assigned for each session.
What kind of students do you recommend to participate in NEAN?
Participants in the program were of various ages from 1st year to 4th year; however, I think that most students had the following sense of purpose.
1. They want to resolve international problems starting with the East Asia region.
2. They want to gain experience on the international stage by participating in the forum.
3. They want to challenge themselves in this opportunity to utilize what they had learned at university.
4. They want to improve their English ability (English was the language used in forums).
It is certainly a plus to meet many exceptional students who have similar goals as you all at once.
Finally, please tell us what was good about participating, and give a message to younger students.
What I gained from actually participating was of course accomplishing the aforementioned sense of purpose as well as the following.
1. Gaining the skill of completing tasks in a short period of time, as is required in working environments.
2. Communication skills gathered during group work and discussions with participants with different backgrounds.
3. Whether receiving an award or not, I acquire confidence from the activities in the forum.
Receiving an award, and evaluating part of my four years of student life, I gained confidence to start my life as a member of society.
Although NEAN2012 was such a fruitful experience, there were only three Japanese (eight in 2009, four in 2010) among the 150 participants, a disappointing participation rate with extremely few Japanese. Japan is a leading nation in Northeast Asia, and should be expected to send even more active-student participants. We hope that students who have even the slightest interest will participate and initiate more on behalf of Japan in Northeast Asia.