Berkeley Diary


May/7/2005  The First Visit to SUA

       The sky is blue, the sunlight shines all of us, and  the fresh air gives us pleasure. We can see the campus on the hill from our car. We are here in Aliso Viejo, Orange County, Southern California. As you know, the campus is the Soka University of America (SUA) that I have longed to visit! Oh, what a beautiful and brilliant campus it is! The songs of birds make us happy and seem to celebrate us. And the voices of students with good spirits echo on this marvelous campus.

       Today finally I visited Soka University of America, the sister school of our Soka University.

       Minoru and I arrived in Laguna Beach near here yesterday. It was a business trip for
attending the workshop of the Pacific Basin Research Center (PBRC) of  SUA. At the Los Angeles International Airport, Dr. Rondinelli and Dr. Heffron welcomed us. They are professors at SUA and head leaders of PBRC. Minoru, who came from Seoul by oversea flight,  is my colleague in Soka University, and also my close friend since we were high school students of Soka Gakuen. He is also in his sabbatical year as I am, but he is now researching in South Korea.

       The workshop was held at the alumni center at SUA today. The participants were Dr. Dennis Rondinelli (PBRC Director),
Dr. Jay Heffron (PBRC Associate Director), Dr. Tomoko Takahashi (Provost, SUA), Dr. Ed Feasel (Professor of Economics and Dean of Students, SUA), Dr. Barbara Ascher (Research Associate, Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont-McKenna College), Dr. Bill Ascher (Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics and Dean of Faculty, Claremont-McKenna College), Dr. Kurt Takamine (Professor of Organizational Leadership, Chapman University and PBRC Visiting Professor), Dr. Minoru Koide (Professor of International Relations and Vice Director, Soka University Peace Research Institute), and I. The theme of the workshop was "Leadership for Development in a Globalizing Society: Challenges of Change in the Pacific Basin". My major is far from the topic, and I cannot speak English fluently, but I understood the topic is very important for the world peace.

        I would like to introduce the preface of the hand-out as follows:
        Individual and organizational leadership is crucial in bringing about economic, social and political changes that promote peaceful human development. Development itself is a process of change that requires the mobilization of human, financial, and physical resources and its success often depends on modifications in human and organizational behavior.  Previous PBRC research found that development policies, in the formal sense, are a type of social innovation that requires leadership in all stages of the process, from identifying problems or recognizing opportunities for human betterment to transforming innovative ideas about problems or opportunities into courses of action, obtaining approval or legitimacy for policy reforms, enacting policy into law or government programs, and implementing development activities.

         We talked
eagerly from morning to evening. When Minoru and I were asked about the cotemporary leadership of the Japanese prime minister, a few times, Minoru answered. His major is international relations. I was helped by his knowledge and excellent English.

         I met a wonderful SUA student in this conference. His name is Mitsu Fujii from Tokyo. He will be one of the first alumni at SUA in two weeks. He has been approved for entrance to UCB and will move to Berkeley this August. Both of Professor Feasel and Professor Heffron spoke highly of Mitsu. I was deeply impressed with his purpose to study and his personality. I shook hands with him and told him "welcome". I am very much looking forward to meeting with him in Berkeley.

         On this day, in the same SUA campus, The International Festival was also held by the students. At lunch time, we went to the courtyard. Many students and groups were dancing, singing, and playing various instruments there. And the stalls selling foods, drinks, and memorial goods were opened by students.  It was very cheerful. All of the students were in good spirits.

         After the workshop, we went to the gym, where the
main event, the Finale of International Festival on the stage was starting. There were about 2000 people in the audience and a student orchestra beside the stage. After a long silence, suddenly the student chorus broke the silence. And in the front of the chorus, another student group performed modern dance cheerfully. It was powerful and exciting. Music by the student orchestra was also excellent.

          All of them represented the theme of the Finale, "The Heart of A Lion". The precious statement of Buddhism says "Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs." They intended to express that they were also cubs and they never fear obstacles in their life, like the lion king. The melody, song, and dances, which
they performed, derived from the motif of the famous musical "The Lion King".

           I would like to introduce the program. The Final was consisted of 12 scenes as follows:
 1. The Dawn--The Beginning of New Life -"The Circle of Life" from The Lion King: The first performance I mentioned above.
 2. Friendship -Asoka-: It was performed by Indian Dance Club students.
The dancers wearing the Indian folk costumes were dancing exotically and actively.
 3. Aspiration -"I Just Can't Wait to be King" from The Lion King-: Behind, as the solo vocalist sang a song, the dancers with flags were dancing calmly.
 4. Adolescence in Full Bloom - "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King-: A vocalist and a dancer performed.
 5. Absence of Light -Be Prepared" from The Lion King-: Two vocalists were singing a song with their spirit.
 6. A Battle with Internal and External Struggles: I t was a crew dance with fast movements like short sprint.
 7. Obsession with Mountains: On the stage was hung a large sheet with a drawing of a mountain on it. The narrator told a story and the chorus sang.
 8. Reflection 
-"Shadow land" from The Lion King-: Chorus, dance, and piano performance.
 9. Determination -"He Lives in You" The Lion King-:The presentation of slide. It showed us their student life in SUA.
 10. Standing up One by One -"One by One" from The Lion King-: Chorus.
 11. Strive for Victory -Shi-shi-funjin-: The Japanese traditional drum performance. It was called "Wa-Daiko".
 12. Finale -"The King of Pride Rock" & "The Circle of Life"
from The Lion King-: All of the performers appeared in the arena of the gym from backstage. They sang together magnificently, close to the audience. The people in the audience gave a big applause to the students.

     They showed us their strong heart like the lion king. Their performance was cheerful, vivid, and impressive. I was very happy to find that the students at SUA
undoubtedly had the spirit of the Founders. I will never forget today's Finale. And I will never forget their wonderful smiles and appearance.

Regarding the article on SUA in the Japanese pulp magazine <in Japanese>

To: Soka University HP (English)
To: Department of the Japanese Language and Literature HP
To: Masaki YAMAOKA's HP: Index