In November last year, Tohoku University Festival Committee spoke to ‘The Sentinel‘ in an exclusive interview about what it is like to organise a student event at such a scale. With internationalisation of the festival being a key feature in 2017, the organisers have tales to tell. The organising committee is primarily represented by the 2017 Festival Director, Ryuhei Notsuke. Other interviewee profiles are mentioned at the end of the interview.
- What do you think needs to be changed or kept for the festival next year?
I think we have to interact more with students and work as a team.
- Where do you want Tohoku University Festival to be in the next 50 years or near future?
Well, though we cannot exactly but we hope it attracts a lot more people and that students can express what they have learnt.
- Have you attended any other university festival? Is there anything that makes the Tohoku University Festival unique?
I have attended the festivals at University of Tokyo and Tohoku Gakuin but I think that what makes the Tohoku University Festival different is our focus on what we have learnt and not just entertainment. Invited lectures are a reflection of the same.
- Is it the first time you decided to make festival more international? Why? What were the initiatives taken under this process?
Yes, it is the first time. Our idea was to create a school festival where foreign students can truly enjoy. To facilitate the same, we had an English website, signboards in English and also the map in English.
- Tohoku University International Festival (TUIF) is chiefly organised by TUFSA. Have you ever considered to have just one festival which includes both international and Japanese students?
For organising the current festival itself, we have to take permission for hosting and cooperate with the authorities. Maybe in the future, we can think about having one festival.
- How many months do you take to prepare for the festival? What is the process of organising?
For organising the festival in November 2017, we began planning in December 2016. Organising the festival itself is a club activity and anyone who is interested can join. Anyone who wants to make a change and has a strong feeling for the school can join the club. The selection of the executive committee is random and this year we chose the members through lottery as the number of interested applicants were many.
The leader of the festival is chosen through voting by former members. The leader is always a sophomore and this activity is meant for freshmen and sophomores only.
- How did you decide this year’s theme (もどれどうしん、おどれわこうど), mascot (Peton) and theme song (Mellow Grace)?
The theme was decided by sophomores in around May or June but the discussions regarding the same began right from December. For the song and the mascot, we asked the student community to contribute something and then vote upon the same. Therefore, both the song and the mascot, are original creations.
- What is your fondest memory of the festival?
Ryuhei : Well, the entire process of organising was fun but most importantly, smiles of the people would remain as my fondest memory.
Ryota : Being responsible for the internet promotions and pamphlets, I saw many people looking up for what we sent out and that made me happy. Personally, I felt a sense of accomplishment when my best friend said that he had great fun.
Yuto : Not many people knew what I did in the team but a lot of them told me that I was shinig in the spotlight. That made me really happy.
Naohiro : This year, the number of people who watched the stand-up comedy live were more than 1,000! This was much more than the last year. This remains as my fondest memory.
- Any message/comments for our readers?
Ryuhei : I really hope that everyone, both Japanese and international students, enjoy the school festival next year too!
Naohiro : I would like more international students to attend the festival. This year, it was only the website that we worked on. Next year, I hope we can publish something too so that more international students. The university is investing its time and effort for bringing in more international students and I think that the festival should be reflective of the same too.
Interviewee profiles :
Ryuhei Notsuke (Festival Leader, 2017) : 3rd year student of psychology (Department of Literature) from Gunma. He loves swimming and is good at apologising as he always did so on behalf of the executive committee to the school authorities.
Yuto Sano (Translator during the interview and organising committee member) : 2nd year student of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering from Tokyo. He loves solo traveling and tends to be alone a lot.
Ryota Saeki : 3rd year student of Economics from Miyagi. He loves statistical analysis and he analysed all the festival data this time.
Naohiro Kobayashi (Organising committee member and the person who came up with the idea of internationalisation of the university festival) : 3rd year student of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering from Miyagi. He loves taking photos and was the photographer for the festival committee.
This interview was ideated by Tanach Rojrungsasithorn. A 3rd year student of IMAC-U at Tohoku University, he is a member of the editorial borad at ‘The Sentinel’.
The 70th Tohoku University Festival would be held in November 2018 under the leadership of Shu Takeda. You can join the festival through this link