Updated in January, 2020
In the afternoon of December 11, Indonesia’s first Sakura Science Club alumni meeting was held at Crowne Plaza Jakarta. Approximately 200 people, including organizers from the SSC Secretariat participated to reunite.
Ambassador Ishii Masafumi
Main Coordinators Mr.Muhammad Fadel and Ms. Helen Kristin
Prior to the alumni event, 15 alumni members participated in the coordinators’ meeting to introduce each other and exchange views about future activities. Ms. Helen Kristin and Mr. Muhammad Fadel had volunteered to assume the role of main coordinator. Details about connecting alumni networks in Indonesia were discussed in detail. You can read more from the next article about the coordinators’ meeting. In the future, the secretariat will also work together with coordinators to enhance networks among members.
Five presenters selected from many applicants also introduced various inspirational episodes including the promotion of science education in suburban cities. These stories showed how Sakura Science Plan (SSP) is establishing a firm foothold in Indonesia since the program started.
15 Volunteer Coordinators for SSC Indonesia
Approximately 200 People Reunited at Crowne Plaza Jakarta
Part 1: Congratulatory Remarks and Alumni Presentations
● Welcome Speech by Mr. Koda Akira (JST Vice President)
● Congratulatory Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ishii Masafumi
(Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of Indonesia)
● Congratulatory Remarks by Indonesian Honorable Guests:
- Dr. Juandanilsyah, SE, MA (Deputy Director for Students Affair, Directorate of Senior Secondary School, Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia)
- Ms. Nada Marsudi (Head of Bureau for Cooperation and Public Communication, Ministry of Research and Technology)
● Announcement/Introduction of Indonesian SSC Alumni Association Coordinators
● Presentations by SSC Alumni Speakers
1) Ms. Rizki Maida Octaviani, Simarmata (Gadjah Mada University)
2) Ms. Amaira Utami (A+ Bilingual Learning Center)
3) Ms. Zahra Rizky Intanasri (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature)
4) Ms. Dian Putri, Hastuti (Gadjah Mada University)
5) Mr. Tubagus, Iqbal Maulana (IPB University)
● Introduction to Study in Japan
Ms. Rinjani Hanani Suyu (Education Advisor, JASSO Japan Educational Information Center, Jakarta)
● Group Photo Session
Part 2: Alumni Networking Party
Closing remarks by Mr. Kuroki Shinichi (Director, Department of Sakura Science, JST)
Right before the Indonesia alumni meeting, volunteer coordinators came together at the Opal room at Crowne Plaza Jakarta to introduce each other and to plan about future activities. Mr. Hideo Natsume from JST acted as facilitator.
Apart from establishing basic SNS windows like Facebook for sharing alumni news, coordinators proposed to create an attractive Instagram template that will casually urge members to post their photos on SSC Indonesia’s official Instagram account. Short introduction by each alumni coordinator could also be posted there.
In order to reconnect all SSC members in Indonesia, coordinators have already compiled a simple Google Form ready to go out to Indonesia alumni listed in JST’s database. The Google Form asks for personal information (name, location, affiliation, occupation, social media account, and consent for info-sharing) for future communication. By figuring out the location of each alumni, coordinators can ask someone to be the contact person of a certain area or city.
Coordinators’ Meeting Held in Opal Room at Crowne Plaza Jakarta
Once basic communication platforms are in place, coordinators wish to organize groups according to academic interests or research fields for information exchange, local academic meetings or workshops. Some mentioned that the workshops could also include non-academic activities like cultural exchange between Indonesia and Japan.
There was also a proposal to build a Sakura Mentor system, whereby Indonesian master’s or PhD students already in Japan can give advice to younger students who want to study in Japan. One coordinator mentioned that SSC alumni gatherings can also serve as an opportunity to learn more about research partnership programs like SATREPS (Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development), where researchers from different countries and Japan tackle global issues together.
As a result of this meeting, Ms. Helen Kristin and Mr. Muhammad Fadel volunteered to become Main Coordinators for the Indonesia alumni association and all coordinators unanimously agreed.
15 Indonesia alumni volunteer coordinators:
Ms.Dina Setyaningrum, Mr.Ahmad Syafii, Mr.Aprianto, Dr.Akhamad Adi Sulianto, Mr.Ferdinan Hironimus Prasetio, Mr.Muhammad Fadel*, Miss Zakiyah Ramadany, Ms.Helen Kristin*, Mr.Lalu Faizin, Ms.Mirnawati Ramli Ahaya, Ms.Miftahul Zannah, Ms.Dian Kusumawati. Ms.Maryam Al Lubbu, Ms. Alifia Zahratul Ilmi, and Ms. Ika Arofa Setiawati
SSC Indonesia Accounts
Official Facebook: Ssc Idn Coordinators
SSC Indonesia Coordinators with JST Sakura Science team
Updated in December, 2019
On the morning of November 11, the 2nd Japan SSC Alumni Meeting was held at Seihoku Gallery (Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Tokyo). Out of 15 members who attended, 12 members delivered presentations about their endeavors in relation to Sakura Science Plan (SSP). The new main coordinator for Japan, Mr. Lai Hung Wei (Japan coordinator since 2016) acted as the facilitator.
Mr. Lai Hung Wei
New SSC Japan Main Coordinator
Members and guests from overseas
celebrate the 5th year of Sakura Science
8 international guests including main coordinators from India, Malaysia and Vietnam commented on the future of SSP and SSC activities. Ms. Yixin Xu expressed of her will to build SSC networks inside China so they can collaborate with SSC alumni groups in other countries. Dr. D. Sundar (IIT Delhi), Dr. Jeetender Chugh (India main coordinator), Ms. Nur Shakila binti Muzammir (Malaysia main coordinator) and Dr. Artiwan Shotipruk (Chulalongkorn University) mentioned how Sakura Science led to active joint research with Japan and more exchange in universities/institutes. Mr. J.G. Shanta Siri (National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka) encouraged SSC members to actively mentor youths in their country, to raise awareness and to make use of online platforms that are also usable in rural areas. Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Ha who oversees the high school program in Vietnam suggested that SSP would be even better if there is a new program for high school science teachers. She also suggested that extending the program period would lead to more grass-roots exchange with Japanese students or lecturers. Mr. Ngo Van Quyen (Vietnam main coordinator) stated the need for a common knowledge-sharing platform.
For ways to improve SSC activities and to create reasons for engagement, Mr. Nguyen Chi Long (Japan coordinator since 2016) summarized various opinions voiced at the coordinators’ pre-meeting held on November 10. One idea was to ask members to send in scientific or social project proposals and to announce the awardees at alumni meetings. The awardees will receive funds to execute their plans. Remarkable projects could be selected either by JST or by SSC member votes. Dr. Jeetender Chugh suggested to match timing of alumni meetings with some cultural event in Japan. Many of such new ideas are described in the article below featuring the SSC coordinators’ pre-meeting.
After the Japan alumni meeting, members participated in SSP’s 5th Anniversary Symposium, held at the adjacent Yayoi Auditorium of Ichijo Hall.
At Seihoku Gallery inside the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Agriculture
On November 10─the evening before the Japan alumni meeting─SSC volunteer coordinators got together at JST for a brain-storming session in two groups (A and B) to improve and develop alumni activities. Coordinators came up with many inspiring ideas that will allow JST to conduct more strategic marketing and to gain better public relations opportunities for both Sakura Science Club and Sakura Science Plan. The secretariat and JST immensely thank all coordinators for taking their time to participate.
Group A pointed out that the current SSC homepage, SSC Members’ Only SNS and the SSC Facebook page do not have any attractive contents to look forward to. In order to drive viewers, recruitment or internship info could be included as financial stability is crucial to Sakura students studying in Japan. To match today’s visual era, SSC can open an official Instagram account for posting a series of member photos with short personal stories. (SSC’s take on “Humans of New York” compiled by Brandon Stanton). JST can pick up vital information from the comments section to know what young people are looking for in the program or in alumni activities.
Members of Group A discussed how to motivate engagement in alumni activities and to take steps for more strategic marketing
Another way to liven up meetings could be to conduct a contest to call for research/business/social startup plans and to award the top 10 ideas in Japan. The finalists will get funding from JST to execute their plans. This scheme will not only motivate members, but will also help inspire young people around the world to go for a career in science. The award ceremony during the alumni meeting could also be great PR material.
As a side-project, Group A suggested to compile a yearbook covering members from the original SSP group invited to Japan. This yearbook can help to reconnect and revive friendship.
Group B mentioned that there should be a common platform like Google group where it is easy to track and manage personal information (change of status or location). There is no way to find out who is in Japan now and that could hinder alumni activities. So even if routed through JST, there should be a mechanism where one can email directly to another member or retrieve name lists of a particular group (e.g. Myanmar alumni living in Japan). Members can help each other through Google groups by sharing information on research, etiquettes/life/travel in Japan, or even job-hunting advice. SSC can also open a YouTube Channel for better outreach. Aside from formal events in Tokyo, there could be more casual gatherings like hanami in Kansai, Kanto or Kyushu regions.
Group B re-emphasized the importance of a common platform where members can help each other and track their current career status
After the wrap-up, Mr. Lai Hung Wei was selected as the new main coordinator for SSC Alumni Association Japan. Ms. Zou Wei had been the main coordinator for Japan since 2016, but she returned to China in September.
Coordinators’ Pre-meeting at JST on November 10
Mr. Lai Hung Wei (Malaysia)*, Mr. Nguyen Chi Long (Vietnam)*
Mr. Huang Lei (China), Ms. Xu Yixin (China), Ms. Nur Shakila binti Muzammir (Malaysia), and Mr. Ngo Van Quyen (Vietnam)
Ms. Ha Hoang (Vietnam)*, Dr. Jeetender Chugh (India)*
Ms. Pousali Mukherjee (India), Ms. Soe Htet Wai (Myanmar), Ms. Thin Thin Htut (Myanmar), and Mr. J. G. Shanta Siri (Sri Lanka)
*Names in bold are wrap-up speakers
Updated in November, 2019
On October 10, the first Sakura Science Club (SSC) Alumni Meeting in Malaysia was held at Park Royal Kuala Lumpur’s Orchid Grand Ballroom with a turnout of 95 club members, guests and press. After welcome speeches by Mr. Okimura Kazuki (JST Principal Fellow and founder of Sakura Science Plan exchange program) and Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia H.E. Dr. Makio Miyagawa, Mr. Mohammad Sanusi bin Abdul Karim (Undersecretary of the International Relations Division Ministry of Education) and Mr. Mohd Azlan Bin Idris (Senior Assistant Secretary International Division Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change) gave congratulatory remarks.
Following the greetings, 11 regional SSC coordinators Mr. Arif Zulfadli Bin Nain, Ms. Mok Kar Mun, Ms. Nur Diyan Mohd Ridzuan, Dr. Che Azurahanim Che Abdullah, Dr. Lau Woei Jye, Ms. Mornizawati Binti Abdullah, Dr. Gan Hong Seng, Mr. Muhamad Haziq Bin Shahrom Ravin Daram, Ms. Nur Arina Binti Johari, Dr. Nurzal Effiyana Binti Ghazali, and Ms. Nur Shakila Binti Muzammir, were introduced on stage for future alumni activities in Malaysia.
Next, selected members made presentations on how Sakura Science affected their endeavors: Ms. Norzela Nordin (Graduate Student, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris), Mr. Arif Zulfadli Bin Nain (Engineer, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd), Ms. Mok Kar Mun (Analytical Scientist, Biocon Sdn Bhd), Ms. Nur Diyan Mohd Ridzuan (Graduate Student, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS), and Dr. Hong-Seng Gan (Researcher, Universiti Kuala Lumpur).
After the presentations, members enjoyed some time for re-uniting and meeting new friends. One member said that “the next meeting could feature some poster sessions to showcase achievements of SSP participants,” while another suggested “to establish a task force to promote active participation among alumni through social media platforms.”
SSC Malaysia Alumni Reunite
SSC Malaysia Coordinators with JST’s Sakura Science Team
Updated in May, 2019
On March 21, the first SSC Alumni Meeting in Vietnam was held at Lotte Hotel Hanoi with a turnout of 95 club members and 26 guests. After welcome speeches by the founder of Sakura Science Plan (SSP), Mr. Kazuki Okimura (JST Principal Fellow), and Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam H.E. Mr. Kunio Umeda, Mr. Pham Chi Cuong (Ministry of Education and Training: Deputy Director of International Relations Dept.) and Ms. Le Thi Viet Lam (MOST-Deputy Director of International Relations Dept.) had delivered congratulatory remarks on how Sakura Science is impacting lives of Vietnamese youths.
After 9 Vietnam Alumni Association coordinators were introduced, Dr. Nghiem Vu Khai (Member of National Assembly, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations) toasted to the success of Sakura Science. After a light meal, three speakers representing the Alumni in Vietnam had made their presentations on how SSP influenced their lives and research.
In the latter part of the gathering, professors from Osaka University, Nagasaki University, Ritsumeikan University and Yamaguchi University introduced highlights about their institutions. Ms. Yoshiko Okada, Chief Representative of JASSO Vietnam Office, supplemented basic facts about studying in Japan.
From our survey conducted right after the meeting, approximately 93% of respondents (teachers, undergraduate/graduate students, researchers and others) replied that they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the meeting because it fulfilled their wish “to meet other SSP participants” and “to learn more about studying in Japan.” Out of 72 respondents, 38 replied that they already had a specific Japanese university in mind. Individual members suggested “setting up a group through social networks so that members can exchange information,” “writing proposals together with young scientists to look for joint Japanese-Vietnam funding,” and “to conduct an offline meeting for SSC Vietnam as soon as possible to make annual plans.”
This meeting could not have materialized without tremendous support from all the team members, particularly the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam. Once again, the Secretariat would like to extend our deep thanks to all supporters and members of Sakura Science Club in Vietnam. We are One!
Updated in April, 2019
On February 21, 2019, the first Sakura Science Club Alumni Meeting was held at Renuka City Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 68 members managed to participate in the meeting co-hosted by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). After welcome speeches by Mr. Kazuki Okimura (Principal Fellow, JST) and Prof. Ananda Jayawardane (Director General, National Science Foundation), H.E. Mr. Akira Sugiyama (Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka) and Mrs. Noor Rizna Anees (Director General, Department of Development Finance, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media) greeted the audience with congratulatory remarks. Also, Ms. Ai Maeda from the Embassy of Japan introduced some basic facts about studying in Japan.
During a casual and lively cocktail lunch, four members had delivered their presentations on how Sakura Science had impacted their research and life. To note, five alumni coordinators have been selected on this day to voluntarily support future activities of the SSC Sri Lanka Alumni Association.
In the web-survey conducted right after the event, most people answered that they were very much satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the Alumni Meeting despite limited time. Other than reuniting with other SSC members, more than 70% replied that the main reason for attending was because they wanted to learn more about studying in Japan. More than two dozen of participants had specific Japanese universities in mind.
To improve future alumni meetings, our team would like to reflect all the valuable input directed to us through the survey. Once again, we thank all organizers and members in Sri Lanka for your warm cooperation which led this meeting to success! It was so nice to see all of you reuniting again!