KSTN students' 2022 Winter Operation
Student members of the Kyoso Sankaku Tankent Network held a hybrid "Winter Session" meeting on December 11th and 12th, 2021, at the Tokyo Gakugei University. Students named it "Winter Operation" (fuyu no jin) to demonstrate the continuity of their discussion from the "Summer Operation" (natsu no jin) held in the summer of 2021. The term jin in Japanese refers to a battle position, encampment, or the strategic positioning taken during a military campaign, and the term was adopted to reflect the students' active engagement to develop future strategies that the terms ‘conference’ and ‘meeting’ do not convey. Ten members ranging from junior high school students to university students participated in the meeting: Mahiro Umehara, Haruna Takeuchi, Miki Nanashima, Miku Honda, Risa Minamihounoki, Shiori Yamamoto, Kazuma Yuruzume, Nathan Wang, Momoka Kojima, and Sakura Tada. Senior members including KSTN Research Director Keiji Matsuda, Research Promotion Fellows Shigeo Kodama, Keiichi Nishimura, and Naohiro Matsuo also joined the 2-day discussion.
The following items were discussed during the Winter Operation: the project to turn the 2021 March workshop "Since Then. From Now On," which also occasioned as the launch of KSTN, into an archivable form; a report on the application process to receive funding from the Deloitte Thomatsu Well-being Foundation; on the idea of creating a KSTN logo; ideas for student-led projects; and the use of social media to develop relations with Empowerment Partners and to communicate KSTN activities.
The meeting, which began with an ice breaker where members were asked to guess the names of their fellow KSTN members based on their profiles, was the first time for most of the members to meet each other face-to-face. Members seemed to find the face-to-face meeting refreshing and exciting, particularly because KSTN was established during the Covid-19 pandemic. The students shared their comments about the Winter Operation as follows:
“I was able to talk in a way that is only possible in face-to-face meetings which was fun and made me more excited about the future than ever before. I learned a lot from trying the hybrid format of having people join face-to-face and online, one of them was how to create an emotional connection between those who participate online and those who participate face-to-face so that they don't feel distant from each other." (Miki Nanashima)
“The hybrid format really stood out for me during the ice breaker. I don't know how the March workshop will go, but I hope we can continue to enjoy meeting in both the face-to-face and hybrid formats.” (Momoka Kojima)
"I met everyone for the first time, we worked with our hands, wrote on paper, and our output remains as an object... I hope to get together with everyone again when we initiate our projects.” (Haruna Takeuchi)
"We were already close since we're working together online, but meeting face-to-face made us even closer! I think it helped us work together better online than before. When school was closed during Covid-19, I ruminated about the significance of attending school in person. I had come to a tentative conclusion that "ideas are born out of casual conversation," but I wasn't sure if that was actually true. But now I know. Meaningless conversations are important!” (Risa Minamihounoki)
"I felt that we grew closer psychologically because we can use body language to communicate in a face-to-face meeting. But, the face-to-face and online hybrid meeting tends to isolate those who are online so we need to think how best to overcome this issue. It was great that we were able to see how we were working on camera.” (Shiori Yamamoto)
"It was great to meet everyone. I was really happy because I had only been able to see everybody through the screen for a long time! It was refreshing to see everyone's faces and gestures. It was fun and it motivated me to plan for activities that we can do after our meetings. I wondered why meetings go faster when we meet face-to-face." (Miku Honda)
“My experience seemed more memorable because my senses were stimulated by eating sweets, writing by hand, and sharing local souvenirs. On the other hand, I regret that I couldn’t involve the adult members to prepare for this event. I wish we could have done more together from the preparation stage (e.g., how to use time, how to successfully hold online and in-person hybrid meetings). I feel that if we could have talked about setting up the venue together, it wouldn't have been a meeting where the students did things on their own, and we would have received more comments from the adults." (Kazuma Yuruzume)
“Those participating online weren’t able to share our snacks. There should be a system where snacks could be delivered to everyone participating online. Maybe next time we could see if snacks can be sent, so we can be more inclusive. It would be nice if we could have a sponsor company that would give all of us sweets." (Mahiro Umehara)
As these comments demonstrate, student members were not only happy to meet face-to-face, but they also recognised the significance of meeting face-to-face rather than as meeting online, the need to be considerate of online participants, and how their experience might be applied when planning future hybrid meetings. They also felt that meaningful relationships were built at the time of preparation, which led to the question how the student and adult members could have collaborated more. It also shook up the mindset of the Secretariat, as we realised that the venue we helped set up could have been done more meaningfully if done among the KSTN members.