We interviewed Mr Shiozawa, our Boarding House Director, about dormitory life. In the first half of the interview, he talked about the facilities, rules, and the daily schedule of our dormitory. In the second half, he shared his thoughts and ideas based on his rich experience about the growth opportunities and benefits offered by dormitory life. At the end of the session, we answered questions from the audience.
Oyama (Public Relations): Please introduce yourself briefly.
Shiozawa: I was a Japanese language teacher for about 30 years, including during my graduate school days. For eight of those years, I worked as a teacher at a boarding school and also experienced dormitory life with students as a housemaster.
Oyama: As NIC’s Boarding House Director, who will be working by your side at the dormitory?
Shiozawa: In addition to myself, there will be four House Supervisors and up to ten other House Mentors, including International Baccalaureate (IB) graduates, who support the students in their daily lives and studies.
Oyama: What do you mean by House Mentors including IB graduates?
Shiozawa: They are students from our sister school, Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, who are enrolled in the Global BBA course - a bachelor's degree in business administration all taught in English - and some of them are IB graduates.
Oyama: We are now in the application process to offer the IB programme at our high school, so it is reassuring to have such senior students around us.
Shiozawa: Yes, they will be available for consultation and advice, not only on daily life but also regarding the study.
Oyama: What would the daily schedule be like?
Shiozawa: On weekdays, students would wake up at 7:00 a.m. and go to bed at 10:00 p.m. Classes are from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and lunch is taken at the dormitory at noon. After class, there will be a meeting, and students can work on the Engage program until dinner. After dinner, in addition to study time, there will be cleaning, showering and laundry time.
Oyama: What is the weekend schedule like?
Shiozawa: On the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, students will be expected to attend a well-being workshop, but other than that, they are free. They can go out until dinner time. As a rule, overnight stays are not allowed due to security concerns.
Oyama: What kind of rules are there at the boarding house?
Shiozawa: Of course, the dormitory is a home, so it is a place where you can relax. However, since it is a group life, you cannot act in a self-centred manner. You are expected to behave with manners and moderation. In addition to the rules for waking up, going to bed, and going out, you are expected to do your own cleaning and laundry, etc. Personal mobile phones are not allowed to be used at any time while on campus, but instead, you will be provided with a PC to use and the building will be WIFI ready. In addition, each room has its own set of minor rules.
Oyama: What kind of common spaces are there?
Shiozawa: On the first floor, there are many open spaces including the lounge and the cafeteria. There is also a small library, which can be used as a study room. Toilet and laundry are shared. Each of the second and third floors has four multi-purpose spaces, large and small, where you can communicate with other dormitory students or simply study. All of the private rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors have large windows and high ceilings, making them open and spacious. A bedroom is shared by 4 students.
Oyama: How are the private rooms furnished and equipped?
Shiozawa: Each room is furnished with a bed, storage, desk, chair, air conditioner, washbasin and shower room.
Oyama: How do students change and grow through dormitory life? Please tell us three things that left a strong impression on you.
Shiozawa: First of all, you will become much more aware of the differences between your friends and yourself. Self-reflection and discussion will help you to accept them and to adjust to them. Through such experiences, your lifestyle, values, and way of thinking will broaden greatly, and you will learn to recognise diversity. That's where the most growth occurs.
Secondly, in living together for 24 hours a day, you will find interest in others. Not only will you be able to notice their strengths and weaknesses in studies and sports, but you also feel the difference in their sense of style and awareness. You can learn a lot from your peers, not only about their fashion sense, but also about how they talk to you, their gestures, how they think, how they move, how they plan, and how they set up their arrangements. I think they will help you find your own identity, because you will come to appreciate the existence of others, and you will also discover your own multifaceted nature and strengths.
Third, you will naturally be able to contribute to others. Leadership begins with recognising each other's strengths in a small group of two or three people. When you are recognised by others, you are enriched, and you can strive to enrich others, rather than thinking that only you should be enriched. We are willing to support each other. That's the magic created by the right amount of distance and a feeling of tension in dormitory life.
Oyama: Mr Shiozawa, I know you have witnessed various changes and growth in your students, but can you tell us about a specific episode that left a strong impression on you?
Shiozawa: In the American dormitory where one of our students stayed, it was normal to leave trash and plates after meals, but he cleaned up after himself every time as it is the custom in Japan. The teacher who noticed this praised him and talked about this manner in front of everyone. This habit was accepted as a very good one, and after that, everyone cleaned up by themselves. He realised that his casual personal behaviour had been regarded by others. He was very surprised that he too had an impact on others. This seemed to be the catalyst for him to take positive action in his study abroad destination.
Oyama: That's an episode that only dormitory life can provide. We also attract students from all over the world, so such events are likely to happen everywhere.
Oyama: What are some of the other advantages of living in a dormitory?
Shiozawa: The advantage of living in a dormitory is that there is no commuting time and you have an environment where you can focus, so you can make time to devote yourself to various things. It's a great environment where you can thoroughly think about things, research, and accumulate thoughts. Since students spend 24 hours a day in the same community, there is no shortage of people to discuss things with. The sense of security of living with other members of the community will also have an effect. Of course, another great benefit of living in a regular daily routine is that you will develop healthy habits and time management habits. Also, since you will be responsible for your own studies and everything around you except for meals, you will be able to acquire the power and skills to study and live independently.
Oyama: Do you have any tips for spending such a meaningful time in the dormitory?
Shiozawa: First of all, I would like you to have a flexible mind that is curious and willing to challenge the unknown. If you think about what you can do to the best of your ability in various environments and situations, and try to do it with ingenuity, someone will always be there to help you. Also, since you will be living together with friends who have diverse personalities, it is important to be interested in them. It is also important to be interested in other people, and if you make a habit of finding and praising the strengths of others, I think it will lead to your own growth as well.
Oyama: Lastly, why do you recommend dormitory life for high school students?
Shiozawa: High school students are at an important stage in their development as independent adults, and I think dormitory life is the best option for them to prepare for this. This is the time when you can blossom into a new stage of life after having acquired basic academic skills, lifestyle habits, and the skills to take care of yourself at junior high school. It is a time to develop one's individuality and originality. This is also the time to make major life decisions, such as university entrance exams, so I want them to make the most of their abilities. For this purpose, dormitory life provides an environment where students can receive a lot of stimulation, think through trial and error, and immerse themselves in things.
Oyama: Thank you very much. Finally, we would like to answer some questions from the audience.
Q. When is it possible to visit the dormitory?
A. The first open campus was held on April 29th, and the next one will be held on June 5th. The dormitory is scheduled to be completed in March next year, so you will not be able to visit the completed building until April next year.
Q. How are the meals? Will religious beliefs, allergies, etc. be taken into consideration, and will international cuisine be served?
A. Yes, we plan to provide meals that not only accommodate various food cultures, religions, and allergies but also take nutrition and health into consideration.
Q. I heard that students will not be allowed to keep their personal mobile phones, but will they be able to use them freely on weekends?
A. In principle, students will be allowed to carry their mobile phones only when they go out for safety reasons. In case of emergencies, they can contact the school or their parents.
Q. Is there any support for individual study in the dormitory in the evening or at night?
A. You can consult with the House Director, House Supervisor, or House Mentor at any time. House Mentors who are IB graduates are particularly helpful.
Q. Can I go to the hospital if I am not feeling well?
A. Yes, there is a medical space at the boarding house with a nurse in case of need. There is also a general hospital, Aichi International Hospital, five minutes away by car. They have internal medicine, surgery, orthopaedics, dermatology, and neurology. There are also two dentists nearby.