Past Motivational III – Akita International University

“Akita International University”

Seeing educational growth, and being around high-achieving motivated youth should be something everyone gets to experience, but that is just not the case. This week’s motivational is not some grand cause, or about one person, it is about the basic right of every living thing on this Earth – education.

Think about it…From the moment we are born we begin our education. We try to walk, speak, touch, eat, all of it taught to us by just being alive. From the moment nearly anything is born, hatched, or unsealed, whatever, education begins. Little lion cubs learn how to hunt from their mothers. Birds have to learn how to fly. I’m not sure if trees have brains or some thinking mechanism, but they “learn” how to fend off attacks from insects – when to secrete certain chemicals to make the buggies not eat them. Everything has a process of education. Apparently, humans are actually self-aware of this process called education, which makes us unique. Unfortunately, some people try to deny education to the masses. Sometimes education is curtailed, manipulated and bastardized in the guise of progress, but behind the veil screams for openness can be heard. There come times though when these screams are heard, and listened to. That is where Akita International University comes in.

Akita International University is a Japanese university that is breaking the rules. In Japan that can be disastrous, but this small liberal arts university is giving the students an opportunity for a broad-based education that will someday take those students across the world to experience life. I haven’t seen, read about, or been informed of a Japanese university that requires the students to study abroad in order to graduate. Please tell me if I am wrong. AIU is the first.

Why is this motivational? Simply because it is giving the world to the kids. And the kids know it. The most amazing thing is to walk into a room full of young minds and know that they are ready and willing to do whatever they have to to learn, gain knowledge and succeed (albeit within reason). The competitive spirit I feel in the room makes me want to give them 120% of my energy every class.

Sounds perfect doesn’t? Well AIU is by no means perfect. It has, and still has it’s share of growing pains, scandals, and whatever have you. Sometimes that affects the students in uncomfortable/unfortunate ways. But the students persevere. The students carry-on, and in that demand that the administration and teachers give them the best. I for one can’t help but be fed by that. I have to push my ego aside and see where the students can direct me. Of course they are there to learn from me, but I am also there to learn from them. That is the amazing thing, they can teach us so many lessons because of their strength and determination. Still, that spirit is very raw, undeveloped and fragile, and all too often such fragility can be crushed, perverted and demented.

Sometimes I look at Japanese society and wonder if it is ready for the students that come out of AIU? These students want massive change, but also respect and want to hold on to tradition. I don’t think the society at large sees the same thing. For example, in Japanese society getting a job before graduating is very important. I met students who did not have jobs before graduation, and they were freaking out. Some told me they cannot leave university and have to continue taking classes because they can’t have a lapse of time between graduation and possible employment. It would look bad to prospective employers. I was shocked. I told them to get an internship. They told me that internships don’t matter in Japan, post-undergrad. Internships are for while you are in uni. I agree with that sentiment, but in the States internships post-undergrad can lead to great things. It’s a good resume/CV filler if nothing else. Japanese business society doesn’t drink from the same cup of tea. I met another student who, at the end of her junior year, was heading off to Tokyo for job interviews. She had to secure a job before the start of her senior year. So, throughout her junior year she was studying to pass job entrance exams. Yes, an entrance exam to get a job (This has its good and bad features, and I’ll save that for another post). The point I’m trying to make is that these students are met with a whole other world of adversity and challenge before they even graduate university, and most if not all persevere.

This could sound non-motivational, but the thing that is motivating is that the students at AIU want to change that. They want to create opportunities in places where traditionally Japan would never venture. They want to take that chance that only few great innovators and entrepreneurs really take. By coming to AIU they have already taken the first step. May they take that raw energy and refine it into something lasting that will nurture whatever it shines on.

Oh, did I mention that all the course material is taught in English (except for specific language courses – Chinese is taught in Chinese, Japanese in Japanese, and so on). Every student that enters AIU has the ability to speak a second language, and by the time they graduate will have the ability to listen, speak, read, and write in another language. Some will probably be close, if not fluent, in all areas. And they will have spent one full year in a foreign country studying under a foreign system. The opportunity to become global citizens is in their hands. If you want to check it out go to the Akita International University website by clicking the any number of links in this post.

Good things are happening in small places, and soon the World will be affected by them.


  1. April 9, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected for when I found a link on Furl telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

  2. April 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Hi there,
    Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!

    Thank you

    • April 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

      Please keep coming back…Bring some of your friends. Thank you for reading.


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