Ryo Takeuchi, a third-year student in the Department of Social Work (Faculty of Sociology & Social Work), remembers his first encounters with Meiji Gakuin University well. “I saw pictures of the Shirokane Campus when I was in high school, and I couldn’t believe how cool everything looked,” he says. “But the real thing was something else. After I enrolled, it was incredible seeing all the different buildings on campus up close.” The Shirokane Campus is actually Ryo’s second home at Meiji Gakuin; he did his initial studies amid the lush, green environs of the Yokohama Campus before moving to the Shirokane Campus for his seminar studies and specialized courses in social work—a field of study he sees a deep significance in. “It’s about more than just helping the socially vulnerable,” he says. “Social work means thinking about how to create a better society for everyone, including yourself, your friends, and your family.”
Ryo’s studies in the Department of Social Work center on international aid. The theme first grabbed his attention when, as a young boy, he saw a TV documentary on children in developing countries. Ryō’s studies at Meiji Gakuin eventually gave him the opportunity to turn that childhood interest into real-life experience: his sophomore-year seminar field work took him to Cambodia, where he visited local learning-support facilities and taught classes to kids from poor families who lacked the resources to attend public schools.
“It wasn’t anything like what you see on TV or read in books,” Ryo says of his time volunteering in Cambodia. Experiencing things firsthand and engaging in meaningful discussions in his seminar classes have helped Ryō deepen his understanding of “others” with different backgrounds and learn the importance of respecting those differences. As he grapples with the unique challenges of forming collaborative, team-oriented bonds with his fellow seminar students online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryo eagerly shares his thoughts on what his time at Meiji Gakuin has given him and what he envisions for his future.