The A-Wil International Symposium morning session, titled "Educational Efforts to Develop Women Leaders around the World," featured presentations by three international women's colleges and an in-depth look at how Ochanomizu University is working to develop women leaders through the migakazuba ("unless you polish it") philosophy.
The presentations provided a valuable perspective on the different women's education models the universities have formed within their respective national and cultural constructs. Attendees learned that "women's education in Japan and other countries around the world have followed a very similar route" and said that the presentations pointed to "seeds of hope for the future that dispel the current malaise."
The afternoon session began with an address by Ochanomizu University President Sawako Hanyu, followed by words from Ms. Kumiko Bando (Director-General of Higher Education Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and Atsuko Okajima (Director General of the Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office).
Before President Hanyu gave her lecture, symposium attendees were treated to a showcase of thrilling dance. The first dance, performed by three Ochanomizu University graduates, evoked the imagery of the "Flying Deities" the theme of a project conceived by choreographer and Ochanomizu University Professor Emeritus Setsuko Ishiguro. After Ishiguro provided the audience with a brief overview of the Flying Deities Project, several students currently enrolled in Ochanomizu University's Dance Education Course performed "Cosmos," another flying deity-themed dance. The routines dazzled the spectators, who called the works "amazing," "fresh," and "thought-provoking."
The symposium then moved on to its next segment: "The Female University Presidents of the World on Life, Careers, and Philosophy." With Professor Seishi Noguchi (Nara Women's University) serving as guest commentator, President Hanyu, Dr. Sun-Uk Kim (President of Ewha Womans University, South Korea), Dr. Lynn Pasquerella (President of Mount Holyoke College, USA), and Dr. Paola Bernardi (Rector of Collegio Nuovo, Italy) spoke about their own pasts, their schooling, and their development into leaders at the world's highest levels of academia. Incorporating photographs that brought an added dimension to their presentations, the speakers also touched on their personal philosophies, their messages to society, and their visions of the future. Symposium attendees were captivated, saying that they "were happy to be able to get a rare glimpse into the leaders' lives," "saw that the important things (the building blocks of leadership) crossed national boundaries," and "were so amazed to see how the women had become leaders through their own experiences, belief, and determination."
Overall, the symposium was a resounding success. After the event, those in attendance were united in their praise. Some touched on "how meeting important people can change a person's life," while others complimented the "high quality" of the "eminently worthwhile experience." For many of the attendees, the event was a clear reminder that first-rate education for women (including career-focused education) "has never been as important as it is now."
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