What’s good for ourselves is good for others


Yuzuki Seo, a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work’s Department of Sociology, says she hopes that what she does for herself will ultimately benefit others in the future. Ms. Seo is an active volunteer in two local and on-campus organizations. She tells us what motivated her to continue the various activities she has engaged in since entering university.

Yuzuki Seo Fourth-year student Department of Sociology, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work As a local volunteer, Ms. Seo won the Kirara Award (Kanagawa Youth Iki-iki Award) of the Kanagawa Seikatsu Club in 2021. She has been very involved in volunteer work at Meiji Gakuin. She enjoys camping, and she has practiced classical ballet since she was little. She comes from a family of avid campers, but recently has started camping with friends.

Always taking a swing, despite the strikes

I was really into track and field until junior high school. I remember practicing every day in the hopes of improving my record by even 0.1 seconds. After leading such a sports-focused student life, in high school, I wanted to experience something different, so I joined the light music club, which seemed to offer a more youthful experience. While I participated fervently in a fun-filled school life, my friends seemingly saw me as doing everything the best I could, but somehow swinging strikes from time to time. The class T-shirt we made for our Athletics Festival event described me as “The girl with the most powerful strikes.” [laughs]

I don’t like making strikes, but even today I take on the challenges of things I want to do with all my might. It is with that mindset that I started the volunteer activities I’m involved with now.

My thinking changed at Meiji Gakuin

In a high school geography class, I once saw a documentary about a young girl living in an impoverished region in the Philippines called the Smokey Mountains, and that gave me the vague idea that I wanted to do volunteer work when I went to college. The social and international issues we studied in class made me think about what I could do to help, and I chose Meiji Gakuin because of its focus on volunteerism and because it provided an environment where I could engage in such activities.

I also wanted to develop my ability to analyze social issues, so I chose the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work. I can tell that studying sociology greatly changed how I think about things. I started out with a strong sense of justice, so I would make personal judgments about social issues, deciding that things should be one way or another, that this was this and that was that. However, sociology taught me the importance of taking the perspective of society as a whole, rather than my own personal viewpoint. In particular, learning that I must first understand a society’s history and background and analyze the thoughts and actions of people in various situations greatly influenced both my thinking and my volunteer activities.

What I gained from local volunteer work

I am involved in activities focusing on food-loss issues in my hometown of Chigasaki. It all started when an elementary school classmate who was involved in activities related to food loss invited me to join.

We started by posting articles about SDGs on social networking sites. We also distributed “takeout available” stickers to restaurants, reducing food loss by notifying customers they can take home anything they couldn’t finish.

After that, we started talking about how great it would be if we could spread the idea of more fundamentally valuing food, not just food loss in restaurants, and we decided to start doing so in Chigasaki, our hometown.

Chigasaki is bordered by the sea to the south and fields to the north. In the north, many people are very excited about growing organic vegetables and other products. We wanted to create an opportunity to listen to these farmers, so we found a place to hold a talk about agriculture. After our talk, we began thinking it would be great if we could let people know the farmers’ thoughts and the importance of food by actually selling organic vegetables and organizing field tours.

We had started this activity to address the issue of food loss, but getting to know these wonderful farmers changed our mindset, from trying to solve a problem to wanting to share the joy of these activities with as many people as possible. I think this change in thinking is why we are still continuing our activities.

What I gained from campus volunteer work

On campus, I am a member of the Junko Association, a student organization that supports education in Vietnam and Myanmar. I am currently providing support as a fourth-year student, but during my third year, I led two teams in that organization. I was in charge of a team that trained the organization’s human resources and another team called the Public Relations and Membership Department, which does public relations for current members and for acquiring new members.

Many of our activities were conducted online due to the pandemic, making many members struggle with motivation because they didn’t feel a real sense of who or what they were working for. About half the members in my year ended up quitting, and I myself struggled with motivation during my first year, wondering if I was just wasting my time. But that, too, provided an opportunity for change.

Once a year, Junko Association leadership candidates present their visions for the year. I was very impressed when a classmate ran for the leadership of an overseas aid project during my freshman year. I was still also engaged in local activities, and since I was unclear about who I was supporting, I was thinking about scaling back on one of my activities. At the time, my classmate seemed to be having a lot of fun, explaining her election manifesto to me by saying “I want to make this happen.” She looked so happy, and I remember envying how she was going all-out in what she was doing. I was sure I’d have fun if I could do the same.

I wanted to be like that, and I remembered how when I was in junior high and high school, I took on challenges to the best of my ability. Before I knew it, I found myself again wanting to give it my all, and instead of setting aside one activity for the other, I began to think about how I could balance the two activities and do my best in both. As a result, I ended up leading two teams during my third year.

A mindset gained through two activities

These two activities clarified my motivation and feelings about continuing to volunteer. Of course, unlike a job, I wasn’t paid for my volunteer work. Continuing to be active meant constantly asking myself why I wanted to volunteer. While exploring my reasons for doing so, I began to think that in my case, I would not be able to continue my activities if I was just doing them for others. Realizing that a mindset of personally wanting to do something makes me more positive in my actions led to my personal growth.

I don’t think we ourselves can judge whether our actions are in another’s best interest, because only they know that. I can now consider things I do for myself more light-heartedly, just hoping that what I’m doing will help others in some small way.

Continuing to take my mindset seriously

After graduation, I’ll start working at a recruiting company. I believe it was my previous activities that led me to this line of work. Through the two activities I engaged in, I met many people who were working toward self-realization of what they wanted to be. Meeting people who were working hard with a sparkle in their eyes, I realized I really wanted to be like them and that I wanted to increase the number of people like them. I think that’s the main reason why I was attracted to the human resources industry.

But there’s another reason: While struggling with my own motivation as a volunteer, I realized that organizations are made up of people. I realized that one person’s feelings can always make a big difference, and that working with people can change society.

Even as a working member of society, I want to support those working toward their goals by staying close to them and learning about their backgrounds, refraining from making decisions based on personal preconceived notions of how things should be.

I hope to continue moving forward with the mindset of acting first for myself and hoping that will result in benefits for others.