Graduation Speech – Class of 2017

Full transcript of the graduation speech made by Koki Nagawa, Class of 2017.

“Good morning everyone.
On behalf of the graduating class of 2017, I would like to once again welcome all of our staff, faculty, friends, family, and founders to the FIRST and LAST graduation ceremony of ISAK, the International School of Asia Karuizawa.

Class of 2017, we made it. Coming to ISAK I bet we were all uncertain of many things, but we overcame THE hardest times throughout our two or three years together.
And it seems like most of us are here.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to start with a little story of mine. I was never supposed to come here.
The winter of 2013, I had a choice. A choice to either risk my younger brother’s education and come to ISAK, or to sacrifice myself from applying to ISAK and continue my education at a 6 year Japanese private school. Now don’t get me wrong, the Japanese school that I was at is competitive with alumni going to the top universities in Japan. That didn’t mean that I would be in the top universities though.
Anyway, with these two choices, I chose to give up ISAK and stay where I was.
I once fully gave up on ISAK.

The application deadline for ISAK passed and I carried on with my education.
After a month or so, one of my closest friends Wataru, got his acceptance for phase 1 and had an interview coming up. Now this was weeks after the deadline passed, and well here’s what happened. I got jealous. Honestly, I was jealous.
That kid made me think about my experiences at 2012 and 2013 ISAK Summer School all about. He made me regret the decision I made. I was infuriated with myself. This is when all of the miracles start to come together. I immediately emailed Mr. Jemison. I quote, “I regret very very very much about which path I chose for my life. Right now I know that going to ISAK is the best decision I can make. I am very sorry. Very sorry.” After this I was able to apply past the deadline and successfully got accepted.
And so began my journey here.

Everyone in the class of 2017 risked something as they became part of this batch. Obviously to different extents but we all took some kind of risk. When the first 49 students joined ISAK, we did not have a promised IB education. We received our IB school confirmation around March of 2015, 5 months before IB started. We only became a UWC October of 2016. Our batch had the disappointment of not being able to receive the Davis Scholarships. Everyone did not necessarily get affected by these, but these are definitely risks that we had faced as the class of 2017. And I must add, with every challenge, we have grown stronger and closer together. However, we would not have made it here without the tremendous support that we received from all of you, staff, faculty, friends, family, and founders. For this we appreciate you greatly.

The classes of 2018 and 2019 have another year or two to go respectively, and we the class of 2017 are off to a new frontier and challenge. I would like to end this speech with the following message:
As I mentioned earlier, the class of 2017, our two or three years together was filled with risks and challenges. Who knew if ISAK was the right place to go. I said I did from intuition, but we were all uncertain of many things. Once we came to ISAK, we did not regret nor complain about how unstructured ISAK was. Instead took this opportunity to take action. We structured it, shaped it, molded this school into what it is now. Because of this we have the strong connection with Rising field, the international connections in Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Taiwan, through CAS, and individual projects we started. Every year we started the Obon festival, had Halloween parties for local kids, many talent shows, and the golden nugget that Mr. Fitz dug up from his garden. Our weekly trips to tsuruya, the onsen. These are traditions that WE created. We built the school right under our nose.

We did not know if ISAK was our right path. However we shaped this school into what it is now so that we can confidently say this was the right path. I want to tell you this to all of you with reference to a mindset that I have learned through one of our juniors.
Whatever struggle you are in, there is always hope. Do not worry that whatever path you took or will take is the wrong one, but instead make that path the right one.
We will always be your brothers and sisters providing the best support possible, I wish my classmates all the best for the future as they return to their respective countries. I wished that we could all stay forever, but as Robert Frost once said “Nothing Gold can stay”.
Thank you.”







私たちは、後輩のみんなにとって、これからもできる限りのサポートをする兄、姉でいたいと思っています。そして、同級生のみんな、それぞれの母国における素晴らしい未来を祈っています。永遠にみんなといれたら、と思うけれど、ロバート・フロストの言う通り、Nothing gold can stay(いつまでも変わらずにはいられない)ですね。

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Imagine… if there was an ISAK lower school!

Dear Friends of UWC ISAK,

UWC ISAK is celebrating its 10th anniversary! We are proud of where we’ve come from, and we are excited about the next decade.

At this important milestone, we are wondering – in pursuit of broadening our impact, could an ISAK Lower School be considered as one of the options and would it be feasible? A school that embraces ISAK values and vision for a better future?

As we embark on this journey, if you would like to participate in possible market research and receive updates, please subscribe to our mailing list.