Embracing Abnormality: The Abundance of Opportunities Available During the Pandemic at Osaka University

While my three and a half years at Osaka University was indeed a turbulent experience with the pandemic, it was nonetheless eventful thanks to the online opportunities and extra-curriculars that were available. In just my last year and a half of university, I had the privilege to represent the school at the first U7+ Worldwide Student Forum and also organize the Hult Prize OnCampus Contest as the Campus Director.

U7+ Worldwide Student Forum

The U7+ Worldwide Student Forum is a global conference of 88 students from 22 universities across the span of 12 countries who come together to discuss how universities and G7 leaders could help improve the life and well-being of university students. Over the course of two months, I was able to gather with students from around the world to discuss our struggles and expectations from our universities. Despite it being online, having a community of like-minded individuals and being able to share our thoughts and experiences about the pandemic was a large source of comfort during these difficult times.

At the end of the two months, all the delegates from Osaka University came together to make a formal address to the president of our University, President Nishio. We had the honor of speaking about the need for more rigorous and accessible mental health support for all local and international students. Getting to present our ideas and receiving direct feedback from the President himself was a valuable and special experience.

Hult Prize Osaka University Campus Director

Along with the forum, I had the privilege of coordinating the Hult Prize Osaka University OnCampus Contest as the Campus Director in 2020. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest social entrepreneur competition organized by the United Nations, former US president Bill Clinton, and Hult Prize International Business School. Approximately 2 million students from all over the world participate to pitch their unique business ideas that could help solve pressing social issues every year. The Hult Prize OnCampus contest is the first round of the overall Hult Prize competition, and students must qualify in these OnCampus rounds in order to compete in the global rounds.

To provide the opportunity for Osaka University students to compete in the Hult Prize

competition, I headed a team of seven students from Osaka University to organize the

OnCampus competition. We worked as a team to gather professionals as judges, sponsors, and student competitors and were able to successfully hold a competition where 6 Osaka University students qualified for international rounds. The IUDP faculty and cohort was one of our official supporters during this time, helping to advertise and backup our competition. With strong support from the program even during the pandemic, we were able to find ways to stay proactive and organize a successful competition on a completely online platform.

Despite the pandemic completely shifting our normality, at Osaka University I was able to continue to connect with new people and further develop my skills. The number of online initiatives that were available allowed me to create a memorable campus life. I can’t help but imagine the numerous opportunities that would be accessible for future students as the university and society slowly shifts back to in-person classes and events.