Management of university club activities in Japan and students' awareness under the COVID-19 crisis.
Author: Takeshi Takase
Toin University of Yokohama
Editors: Chiharu Kawasaki, Akihiko Ozaki
This article is translated from Japanese MRIC published on January 25, 2022.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the medical professionals working hard on the front lines of medical care every day amid a social situation where the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of ending.
During the pandemic, as the manager of the university kendo club, I have been making my best efforts to manage and understand student members’ health and lifestyle. Compared to junior and senior high school students, university students have a wider range of activities in their daily lives and consider their part-time jobs, etc. In this respect, they are constantly exposed to a risk of infection. Under such circumstances, even though we are the university’s designated club, we continue to worry every day whether we can continue to carry out our club activities under such social conditions. When I hear a cluster infection occurs within other clubs, I cannot help worrying about it as if it were my own problem and thinking that this could happen to our own club.
In such a social situation, the only way to continue the activities of a university kendo club is to set certain restrictions on various aspects, such as comprehensive infection prevention, health management of student members, and behavior management. In addition, I hope that the student club members will learn something from continuing the activities despite the current social situation. The Toin University of Yokohama Kendo Club, of which I am the director, is a large club with a total of more than 80 members, including male and female students in the fourth grade. It is difficult for me alone to manage such a large club and keep it going. Therefore, ten male and female "executive" students, including the captain of the club, show leadership to lead the club members and direct them toward the club's goals and objectives.
In this article, I would like to introduce how these executive students feel about the activities of the kendo club, what they feel, and what they are learning as they continue their activities despite the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to introduce the meaning of the students' devotion to kendo and the "learning" they are taking away from it.
Some of the lessons and insights that the students have gained include: "What I took for granted is not what I took for granted," "I want to be grateful that I am allowed to practice kendo even in this social situation," "I want to take thorough infection prevention measures not only for myself but also for the people around me," and "I want to learn how to prevent infection among club members. I want to make sure that the physical distance, such as social distance, is kept firmly, but I want to make sure that the mental distance is kept close so that we can always communicate with each other." "I want to devote myself to club activities to realize a life-long health and human development.”
Even though the official competitions that they had set as their goals during the pandemic were postponed or canceled, the student members were able to assess the current situation as described above, and I feel that they have become able to interpret and give meaning to club activities at the university in their own way. Particularly, what caught my attention was their gratitude, consideration and attitudes: their gratitude for being allowed to participate in activities, their consideration for themselves and the people around them, and their attitudes to value each activity and interaction among students. These would have been very difficult to be noticed and learnt before the COVID-19 disaster.
Even though university classes have been switched to online, club activities have had to be shortened or refrained from, and official games have been postponed or canceled, students are more aware of the current situation of the society they live in than we adults think. They understand the current situation of the society in which they live, what they can do and what they have to do, and try their best to keep their motivation high while maintaining a good balance between patience and action. A large part of students may tend to act selfishly, but students are not the only ones who work this way. Some students make the most of their positions and do not give up or stop learning and gaining experience in the COVID-19 crisis.
In the COVID-19 crisis, we rarely encounter positive news and information. Still, all of us, including members of society, supervisors, other guidance staff, and faculty and staff belonging to the university, firmly recognize that students are making steady efforts despite the challenging situation. To meet the expectations and efforts of these students, we will do everything we can to provide guidance and support so that they can enrich their lives as students and reaffirm the meaning of kendo during unstable social conditions such as the coronavirus pandemic. I would like to continue working with the students to acquire "katsu jin ken," which means to make the best use of others by reconfirming the meaning of kendo.