南山大学

 

Student Voice

TITHIPONGTRAKUL Nontachai (Thailand)

Graduate School of Policy Studies Graduate Program in Policy Studies

My Experience at Nanzan University

Before I graduated high school, I often wondered what a free and self-directed education might look like. Once I entered university, I began to enjoy my studies and my free time—with the hope that I might develop into a person who valued connections with society. For many people, the experiences they have during university and graduate school only happen once in a lifetime. The people they meet and situations they encounter during this time play a major role in shaping their values and determining their outlook on life long after graduation. I wanted to make the most of my precious opportunity to study abroad by going beyond academics and working with other students to make a social contribution. Nanzan University gave me everything I needed to make that happen.

I entered the Policy Studies program in 2005. My dream of studying in Japan came true thanks to the generous financial aid that the university provided to help cover my living expenses. I gained a tremendous amount from my time spent as a foreign student here, and it all began with two momentous encounters I had in the Faculty of Policy Studies. The first was being able to meet and make friends with people from so many different countries. We overcame cultural and language barriers while helping each other get the most enjoyment out of our four years in Japan. The Japanese students were always kind to us, and I am tremendously grateful for their support as well. I was even able to team up with my small seminar group to carry out some environmental activities that made it into the newspaper.

The second important encounter was my experience working together with people whose ideas and interests differed from mine in order to solve our common issues. This is the definition of applying the “integrated policy approach” concept that we learn in the Faculty of Policy Studies. Working in the field of policy studies means placing the highest value on the bonds that link people together. When I was still in high school, I thought that an expert was someone who had excelled in a single academic discipline. However, my policy studies at Nanzan have taught me that we need to resolve problems as an integrated society—valuing our own areas of expertise while learning from the ideas of those who specialize in other fields. Ultimately, this is exactly same as the experience I had trying to make a societal contribution with my diverse set of friends at Nanzan.

At Nanzan University, students learn the meaning of “integrated policy” both in and out of the classroom as they take the initiative to work on solving social problems. The school has created an environment where students can do this freely. I am currently building on my experiences that began as an undergraduate here as I carry out research for my doctoral degree in policy studies at the Graduate School on the topic of personal well-being. It has been suggested that well-being is the ultimate goal of many areas of study, and though it started as a primarily philosophical pursuit, it has become a serious area of research for experts in psychology, political science, economics, and many other fields. This in itself is an example of integrated policy. And though it may sound lofty, I do have a more personal reason for choosing this research topic: I want to give back to the family, friends, and communities that have done so much to support me.