Introduction to TISA - Tokyo Tech International Student Association
Tokyo Tech International Student Association (TISA)
Tokyo Institute of Technology has about 1600 international students from over 80 different countries. This creates a rich and diverse mix of cultures in our community for everyone to experience. The Tokyo Tech International Students Association (TISA) is the group that connects all international students and works to enhance this multicultural experience at Tokyo Tech.
TISA was created during International Round Table meetings, which are meetings between Tokyo Tech staff and representatives from the international student community. TISA was officially launched on October 5, 2007 under the guide of Prof. Yuriko Sato to unite and support international students and coordinate cross-cultural activities.
<Image of our objectives>
- To support international students of Tokyo Tech
- To convey a single voice of international students to the university administration
- To enlarge the human resource network among Tokyo Tech students around the globe
- To promote cross cultural understanding among Tokyo Tech students
- To create and organize useful academic, educational, social, cultural and recreational activities in the best interest of the association and its members.
As a whole, TISA serves as the union of all international students in Tokyo Tech. While some countries have their own student groups, such as PPI Tokodai (for Indonesian students) and Thai Tokodai (for Thai students), TISA combines all of those groups with the other students who don’t have their own country-groups. Furthermore, TISA also incorporates Japanese students who are interested in interacting with and supporting international students. Over the last 13 years, more than 400 international and Japanese students have served as staff members and volunteers in TISA.
Supporting students and working with staff
One of the most important roles of TISA is to help creating a supportive environment for international students. From the moment international students leave their homecountries, TISA is focused on ensuring that they enjoy their journey through Japan. Using their own experiences, the senior international students in TISA will help the newcomers to adjust to life in Tokyo Tech and Japan. TISA staff members also work closely with Tokyo Tech’s administration to communicate the needs of international students.
Since TISA started, there have been regular meetings with University staff members and students groups to discuss the welfare of international students. These meetings included meetings with faculty advisors from the International Student Center, and the TITech Student Forum.
The TITech Student Forum is currently one of TISA’s core activities. Its aim is to help students improve their lives on campus and improve communication between students and staff. With the help of the Vice-President for Education Prof Tetsuya Mizumoto, each Forum allows students to discuss their issues directly with the relevant University officials. Past Forums have involved representatives from the Student Support Division, Student Guidance Room, and International Students Exchange Division. The discussions have dealt with issues relating to scholarships, safety and well-being on campus, academic well-being and harassment, dormitories and housing, etc.
Building a home for international students
TISA is a great space for international students to integrate into the Tokyo Tech community.
There are many activities that welcome new international students after they arrive in Tokyo and are confused about life in Japan.
At the beginning of first and third quarters, TISA members introduce relevant activities and services to newcomers during the new international student orientation. Additionally, at a later date in each quarter, TISA assists in organizing the International Welcome Party where newcomers can meet other new students, current students, staff, and alumni. These events feature many cultural performances, food, prizes, and activities from many different cultures. Past International Welcome Parties have had over 200 attendees and featured over 40 performers.
The community in TISA also extends to the digital world. Members can connect to TISA’s Facebook group and page, Twitter account, and forum at mytisa.net. These mediums enable TISA members to always stay connected to the community, their countrymen, and others of similar interests.
The cultural identity of each international student is the foundation of the cultural diversity in Tokyo Tech and it must be protected. To this end, TISA organizes “Let’s Go Global: Natives”, a weekly activity that is held at lunchtime in the HUB-International Communication Space (HUB-ICS). Every week, an international student becomes an ambassador of their country and reconnects to their culture by giving presentations about life in their country.
In addition to allowing international students to connect to their own cultures, “Let’s Go Global: Natives” also allows sharing of cultures in the most authentic way: in native way. The audience members at these events learn about different nations through the eyes and experiences of natives of that country. This promotes cross-cultural intelligence and understanding.
Other venues for sharing culture are the cultural exchange events facilitated by TISA in the Ookayama area. Since 2010 TISA has been collaborating with the Shimizokubo Elementary School in Ookayama to expose their children to foreign countries from natives of those countries. And over the last 10 year, TISA has hosted English Cafe in the Ookayama Sakura festival (organized by the Ookayama North-Exit Shopping Street Association) and the Tokyo Tech campus festival. For each of these events, international students share stores and games form their own countries with children from the Meguro-ku and Ota-ku communities.
Connection between international students and Japanese students
The majority of the members in the wider Tokyo Tech community are Japanese, and TISA also has Japanese member who are interested in international students. Most of TISA activities are open to all students, and several TISA activities are aimed directly at promoting interaction between Japanese students and international students. In the past year, TISA’s Japanese Friendly Committee partnered with three (3) sports circles in Tokyo Tech to introduce these clubs to international students because most of the extracurricular activities are conducted in Japanese language, TISA helped international students who can’t understand Japanese to participate in these activities while also helping the partner clubs to reach internationals students. This project has so far involved Photography, Karuta, volleyball, Tennis, Aikido, Judo circles etc. and will be extended to more.
Networking and building friendships
TISA events generally allow students to freely connect, make new friendships, and enjoy their lives in Tokyo Tech. These activities promote interaction over performances, such as the welcome party; interaction over culture, such as Secret Santa and Let’s Go Global: Natives; and interaction over games, such as the International Sports Festival; interaction over food, such as the BBQ, Beach Picnic, and Bento Parties.
One of the oldest and largest events organized by TISA is the annual International Sports Festival. It is a day dedicated to sports where members of the Tokyo Tech community participate in different sports, compete against each other, and win prizes. Over the years, the number of competitors has increased above 250 students participating in soccer, basketball, table tennis, badminton, and E-sports.
Feedback from TISA members:
What does TISA mean to me? When I first came to Tokyo, I didn't know anything or anyone, I was completely lost! And from the first day on campus, TISA was my guidance through my life here, with continued support, helpful advice and friendly community. TISA gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people whom I wouldn't have met any other way, amazing people who are now some of my closest friends! For me, TISA is my family in Tokyo Tech, it's where I go to when I need help, support or just a friendly ear....
TISA has a lot of great events every year which help to connect people especially international students (Japanese students too). I love coming to TISA's events because they help me to meet new friends from all over the world. I would definitely recommend international students to come to TISA's events.
TISA – Tokyo Tech International Student Association
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Twitter: @tisa_tokyotech <https://twitter.com/tisa_tokyotech>
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TISA.TokyoTech
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/64089209622/]