Combating Global Pollution through multiple cultural perspectives: my experiences as a foreign national student through the COVID pandemic.

Nguyen Ha Linh
4th Year Student in the Global Studies Major/ International Student from Vietnam/ International Student Ambassador (ISA Team)/ Participant of the Beyond Borders Plaza (BBP) Project Team/ Participant of the JASSO 2021 Japan University Fair Video Project/ TA/ ES for Undergraduate Classes

Ms Nguyen is an active international student who has thrived in her networking through the COVID pandemic. We interviewed her about the rationale behind her passion for environmental issues and her life as a GS major.

Why did you choose to study IR?

I initially started studying Japanese due to my love of Manga. The more I could speak, the more I wanted to visit and experience Japan. After my trip to Kyoto in 2017, I decided that my four years of college had to be in this city due to its beautiful, historic landscape infused with modern life. I chose the International College of Ritsumeikan University based on my interest in global affairs, especially environmental issues.

What fueled your interest in global affairs, especially environmental issues? 

Vietnamese people are becoming more mindful about protecting the environment in recent years. However, I grew up seeing a lot of disturbing sights of trash and polluted rivers in my neighbourhood. I was irritated by the news reporting on how forests are being cut down in Vietnam, how households in the countryside live using polluted water. Consequently, I am aware of the impacts of every action that we as humans are taking: One burned nylon bag can harm the atmosphere, one piece of trash littered could take centuries to decompose. The more waste disintegrates, the worse our atmosphere becomes. 

I am very concerned about the amount of food waste in Japan. I used to work in a restaurant in Japan and could not stop thinking about how much leftovers are thrown away. As a consequence, I prefer using reusable materials or refillable necessities. I pay attention to using eco-friendly materials and remind my family about the importance of environmental protection.

What was the most fulfilling activity you participated in while at RU?

I will never regret joining the International Student Ambassador (ISA team) throughout my student life at Ritsumeikan University.

As an ambassador, I attended the JASSO 2021 Japan University Fair Video Project where we shot videos of student life in Japan for international students interested in RU. Before I entered RU, information about student life (dormitory life, housing, cost of living, to name a few) was scarce, which left me in the dark. I thought that the best way to attract more international students who are unaware of life in Japan is to provide them with first-hand experience. Younger generations adept in using social media tend to be drawn to visual materials such as photos and videos. This motivated me to make a film reflecting my life in the dorm. I provided a Youtube video of dormitory life to the student blog section and created a template introducing students of RU.

Most of my life as an ISA, unfortunately, took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interactions were all online and we could not have face-to-face interaction. In its place, we assisted new students by holding webinar sessions and answered questions related to our student life and shared tales of financial management as a new independent.

Earlier this year, I became a member of the Beyond Borders Plaza (BBP) project team. BBP is where Japanese and international students meet and practise speaking foreign languages. My role is to propose events that encourage the cultural exchange of students between Ritsumeikan University campuses or even at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (our sister university). BBP is also a place where Japanese and international students like me work together using both Japanese and English, which is a valuable experience for those seeking jobs in Japan.

Working with students from different backgrounds and cultures, I gradually became familiar with working and studying in a multicultural environment. I learnt about how people from other countries have different points of view. I was able to meet students from other colleges and campuses, as well as attend school events for international students. Being an ISA has brought me to fulfilling activities, and incentivized me to contribute to helping future international students.

What have you learnt so far at RU?

What I have strongly felt while in Ritsumeikan University is the diversity of culture. I gained a clear awareness of different cultures, languages and people through my life at RU. Being surrounded by people from various backgrounds, I have learned to accept different mindsets. I believe that awareness of cultural differences can achieve mutual understanding and peace.

While studying International Relations, I have learned about global affairs (politics, sociology, economy, to name but a few). I wish to apply all this knowledge and mindset to work in a multinational company. After graduation, I aim to work in a global firm specialising in delivering global news, data, or a marketing agency.

March 2022