Now that UWC ISAK Japan is in its 10th year, it is fitting to look back, and forwards, to give thanks, and to pledge to uphold firmly the faith of our founders. Put simply, we must both understand and live up to this faith. We have an obligation to do so and, fortunately for us, this is a great pleasure as well.
There are always new schools being started, and for many reasons. Some begin in times of plenty, others when there is financial hardship. ISAK is most definitely in the second category. Had it not been for the global economic crisis in 2008, ISAK might have opened four to five years before our actual start date in 2014. That crisis necessitated an innovative approach by Lin Kobayashi and Mamoru Taniya in their search for alternative funding to make ISAK possible.
And so, the two of them approached about 3000 possible donors, asking each for seed money to start this fully boarding school that promised a new vision for Asian high school education. One hundred stepped forward, an amazing number, each of whom contributed 10 million JPY to get our school going. Is there another school in the world that has 100 founders? What extraordinary faith they showed, what an amazing pledge they made.
Our founders gave money to start our school because they believed in our mission:
At UWC ISAK Japan we empower each other to be transformational leaders who explore new frontiers and make a positive impact today and in the future.
Another way of putting this is encapsulated in our school motto:
Realize Your Potential.
Be a Catalyst for Positive Change.
In 2017, ISAK joined the United World Colleges (UWC) movement. These 18 schools have their own general mission, which we feel privileged to adopt, as it adds a powerful new dimension to our own:
UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
How we understand and live these two missions needs constant attention. The world has become more complex and fast changing than it was when the first UWC, Atlantic College, was founded in Wales in 1962. We live in an increasingly divided and fragile world. We can no longer assume that large international organizations or government institutions alone can bring about the changes we want and need to see in today’s and tomorrow’s world. We require socially minded innovators and entrepreneurs who can question the status quo and pursue their authentic passions; who embrace diversity and learn from difference; who take actions in the face of the discomfort that inevitably afflicts all of us at times; and who support others in this peace-building practice.
Our students at UWC ISAK Japan graduate from us ready and prepared to use their leadership and entrepreneurial skills to unite communities small and large in peace and sustainability. We are hopeful that the major problems that we face as a species, and with regard to our impact on other species and on our planet, are capable of resolution through the combination of ISAK’s leading and entrepreneurial skills combined with the values so integral and close to the UWC spirit. We wish to play our modest part in that process. Every drop in this ocean counts.
That is the faith that our founders placed in our school, that they put in these our missions and visions, and in us. How do we, should we, and must we honor their faith?
Like this, at the least:
- Live up to our missions and visions in thoughtful, innovative, and deep ways;
- Understand and practice our values in our daily lives;
- Be role models in behavior, attitudes, and leadership;
- Pay back what we learn here, and pay this forward, as and when we can, in many and varied ways.
We are still a young school. In this our tenth year, let us remember that.
Because we are still young, we are all still founders. This applies to those of us who live, work, and study here, and also to all our alums and their families. Our school culture is still evolving, our foundations are still being put down, and we must all continue to contribute to this process.
Keep the faith, cherish it, and pass it on as we move forward together in our 10th year.