Get a Finer Net to Distinguish Information through Learning
President Sashi's speech at the 2017 entrance ceremony
By Rino Okamoto and Ami Oguri
"Don't cling to your own experience. If you rely only on what you have experienced and don't try to learn from others, you will be complacent, unable to gain other people's consideration," said Akihiro Sashi, President of Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (KCUFS), at this year's entrance ceremony on April 5.
President Sashi said students' experiences at this university will become valuable assets. For example, unlike many other universities where the number of students who study abroad is decreasing, at KCUFS the number of students who study abroad is increasing. However, there are many experiences that we cannot know first-hand. "What we can experience is limited in terms of time and space," President Sashi told 27 new graduate students and 457 freshmen.
In order to compensate for the parts that cannot be experienced, we have to study, he said. By studying we gain knowledge and information. Academic knowledge is the essence of experiences that people in the past have accumulated. By discovering academic knowledge, we can find events of the far past and those of far away places that we cannot experience. Universities are a place to pursue such knowledge.
Knowledge and information, however, are not useful on their own: "The most important skill is the ability to analyze and understand," President Sashi said. Nowadays, with the spread of the Internet, it is easy to obtain information. However, "you cannot acquire the ability to think just by searching the Internet," he said.
President Sashi compared learning with a net. The deeper you study, the finer net you will require so that you will not miss important information. As an example, he mentioned the case of last year's referendum in the UK. He said he wasn't surprised by the result of the British vote that favored leaving the EU. Although most of the mass media predicted otherwise, as he specializes in the history of the UK, Sashi knew such an outcome was possible based on the country's historical background and the current social situation.
"That means I had a good fine net that could distinguish vital information," he said. On the contrary, in the case of the US Presidential election last November, he wasn't able to make a good guess. He didn't have a good enough net to catch sufficient information about the US election. "I hope you will make your net finer by studying at this university and try to look at information and events objectively and from many different perspectives," he concluded.
(edited by Profs. Matt Theado and Atsuko Shigesawa)