Welcome Message from Chizuko Ueno:

Congratulations, and welcome to N Koko High School!

You will never forget this entrance ceremony in the spring of the Covid-19. Due to the restrictions, many schools have refrained from holding graduation and entrance ceremonies, and some universities have begun to offer online courses. The Covid-19 crisis has been fostering technology-enhanced distance learning, but N High School is an online high school anyway, so the entrance ceremony should also be held virtual. It is a cutting-edge school that has already caught up with the times.

Perhaps you did not know about N High School until you started thinking about your future. The name N seems weird, I know (lol). Does N stand for “the Internet,” or a “new style high school”? We never know. If people ask you, “Which school are you going to?” and you answer, “N High,” probably they wouldn’t get it.

Some of you may have willingly chosen N High School. Others may have had no other choice but to scratch out other options. In either case, I want you to become proud of your choice during the course of your study at N High School. And in the future, I want you to proudly say, “I graduated from N High School.” I sincerely hope that N High School will meet your expectations.

N High was born from necessity. You are the people who have decided not to go, or thought not being able to go, not wanting to go, to a regular high school. You are all non-standard people who cannot put up with regular schools. N High School, which has accepted you, non-standard people, is a non-standard school.

Schools and the army used to be the two vehicles that had been established amongst modernization to create uniform civilians. Although Japan has abolished conscription and that type of army does not exist anymore, schools remain still the same as before. “Everyone, face right!” was originally a physical discipline born from military training. Bullying, which was a consequence of the strong peer-pressure, was also common in the military culture. The school culture has been left behind as times change, and the gap in-between is growing. It is no wonder many people cannot adapt to such schools, or stick out from them.

I taught at the University of Tokyo. Every educational institution has a philosophy of what kind of human resources they want to grow. You may think that N High School and the University of Tokyo are on extreme ends. However, both schools have similar goals in educating their students into their ideal adults. What Japan and the world need now is human resources that are willing to face the uncertainty in the future: those who can tackle with questions when no answer keys are shown, and those who can envision a future that no one has ever imagined. Because the world is now more unpredictable than ever, outside-the-box thinkers may be the perfect fit for such a world. Education is there to give you weapons to live through such a world. N High has many devices and tools for that purpose. N High is similar to a university; N High’s resources will only help those who pursue learning on their own.

Education is there to help you. If education does not help you, if it kills you instead of saving you, you can throw it away.

You, who are unfamiliar with school rules; you, who have a hard time adjusting to your settings; and you, who know what you want—You are honest to your heart and body, and cannot cheat yourself. Teenage years are painful times, as if you are coming out of a pupa. But these are also times where you may repeat as much trial-and-error as you want. Please listen to your heart and body. Listen to others’ hearts and bodies around you. Sharpen your sensitivity, and identify what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, what you like, what you don’t like, what makes you happy, what makes you unhappy. From there, new wisdom will surely be born.

I have one request for everyone. N High School is a virtual school on the Internet. There is also a community in the virtual space. However, please have contact with real people, not with virtual ones. The Covid-19 disaster won’t last forever. People can grow only amongst people. And nothing is more unpredictable than other people. Take steps toward one unfamiliarity, which is you, one unfamiliarity, which is others, and one unfamiliarity, which is the world. The world is much bigger than you think. And the world will welcome you more than you expect. Do not use the present times as means for the future, but live your current life fully. So you can look back in the future, no matter where you are or what you are doing, and say: I am who I am, because I had those priceless times. Trust me. You can do it.

There are people in this world, famous or unknown, whose existence makes us feel like living a little longer. One such person, Mr. Tetsu Nakamura, died last year. He was a doctor who kept digging wells in Afghanistan. In his co-authored book with Ms. Hisae Sawachi, Mr. Nakamura left one of his final words for us; I would like to introduce it and finish my speech:

“People are worth loving; faith is worth believing.”

Mr. Nakamura was killed by Afghan people, to whom he had dedicated his life. But I’m sure Mr. Nakamura would say the same thing even now after his death.

“People are worth loving; faith is worth believing.”

Welcome to N Ko. Congratulations!

Translated by Yoko Morgenstern

N Koko High School is an all Internet base high school located in Okinawa, Japan.

The University of Tokyo 2019 Matriculation Ceremony Congratulatory address by Chizuko Ueno

日本語 (Japanese): https://wan.or.jp/article/show/8930
スペイン語 (Español): https://wan.or.jp/article/show/8976