Alumni Voice


“How the year 2020 and COVID-19 made difference on me and what are the benefits COVID-19 provided”

Naru Hanahara

University student (Environmental law)

2020 was probably the hardest year in my life. It was absolutely terrible that almost everything went wrong. But in this hard year, it also is true that I could find some challenges to accomplish something new, because COVID-19 occurred in Japan in 2020. In a really good timing, I was able to find 2 things that are useful for me. First one is the environmental law seminar which started this September, and the second one is English AI project. This essay covers my thought on year 2020, consequence of COVID-19, and the idea that I came up with because of COVID-19.

Putting aside whether it’s because of COVID-19 or not, too many people died this year. Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and many of celebrities died. It was not just shocking, but I also thought the life could be short and always have chance to end. Then I started to consider I should make a good effort at every time, in order not to regret in the future. Like this year, we don’t know when our “normal life” would not be normal anymore. COVID-19 actually changed my way of living the life, that I thought every minute of time is significant moment and as I’m 19 now, I don’t really have much time to waste in order to think about my future plan and archive it.

Due to COVID-19, all the classes and lectures were changed into online session. Initially I thought online lectures doesn’t really mean a thing, especially foreign language in online form would not be instructive. But I could find some advantages of online lectures. For language classes, we are using Zoom session, so we do have some opportunities to speak up the language, and make a conversation, although it’s still less than normal classes that we meet in a classroom. We can make some groupwork by using a function so called “breakout session”. Using the latest technology, I could know we try to make the form of education quite similar to how it was before COVID-19 pandemic term.

What COVID-19 bothered me the most is cancellation of studying in Norway. I was planning for this exchange program since I had entered the university, and I was wondering if I could make a clear future vision in Norway, by talking to students who came from around the world. However, unfortunately it was cancelled, and due to this pandemic issue, it might be hard to go abroad in the next 2 years, before I graduate.

Since it was cancelled, I have been keep feeling quite anxious. I should find my future plan in Japan, in waseda, online. But then, in the really good timing, I was able to find the things what would be useful for me. First one is the environmental law seminar which started this September, and the second one is English AI project.

When I was thinking about the future vision, I had to apply for the seminar of major subject in my department at the same time. As I am going to the school of law, each major subject is law, but there are plenty of options. The seminar lecture would continue until I graduate, so it would last 5 semesters. It was necessary to think deeply about what specific theme I want to focus on studying, and then I thought what I have been keep studying could be the most suitable choice for the major subject. Thinking back in my high school days and 1 year of university life, I was actually working on the environmental protection for long term, and the beginning of the work is TYCA vol.3 which I participated. I was in Germany for 3 years of middle school, environment protection was a familiar thing as Germany is one of the best environmentally friendly countries in the world. But it was maybe the first time in TYCA to study particularly on environment. It was also the good chance to think about SDGs, cooperation with ASEAN countries and renewable energy uses. About 2 years after TYCA, I had to write a graduation thesis, and I chose comparison of environmental protection of Japan and Germany and how works in Germany can be practiced in Japan as the theme. It was a German studying workshop, but I really went to Freiburg im Breisgau, the city famous for environmentally friendly services in Germany. I have been keep getting knowledges of this kind of topic, so I did not have any hesitation of choosing environmental law as my major subjects’ seminar. Because I was looking for future vision in Japan, as I could not go overseas, at the time I was quite sure that environmental protection and anything related to that might be the core element of creating my future plan. Without COVID-19, I suppose I did not really think about my past studies and future as serious as I did, and I also suppose I did not have chance to take environment protection as significant component of my life vision. This was the first benefit COVID-19 quarantine gave me.

I was working in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Paralympic store as part-time worker, but due to COVID-19 influences, Olympic and Paralympic was postponed and the store was closed. I lost part-time job, so I was looking for a new job that I can do at home. Then I found an interesting job offered by working team from faculty of science and engineering, which was English AI project. The team needed a lot of English conversations of students and native speakers, and then annotate what they were saying on the audio files. What I did were proceeding conversations, tidying up the files, and annotating those audio files, which means typing what each person is saying on each file.

Annotation of English AI project

This job improves my English, provides me some new technologies and knowledges, and most importantly could be done at home. I could not find this job if COVID-19 did not occur, and this job is the way of coping with this hard situation for me. This English AI project could not be done offline, because by using zoom, the audio and mp4 file would be transferred into PC much easier. The all process of this English AI project was able to be done online, and it is just an example of new way of working in the new standard created by COVID-19 in the society.  2020 was generally hard year for everyone around the world. But because of the new lifestyle COVID-19 made, it is also true that I could find some benefits from it. I could have a chance think about my studies in the past and consider the future plan seriously, and also find out we can try to make work or business all online. COVID-19 was an obstacle of our happy life we imagined, but it surprisingly it created some new possibility in the current standard in the society and personally in the life planning for me.






将来のビジョンを考えていた時に、学科の専攻科目のゼミも同時に申し込まなければなりませんでした。法学部なので、それぞれの専攻科目は法律ですが、選択肢が多くあります。ゼミの講義は卒業まで続くので、5学期分です。具体的にどのようなテーマを重点的に勉強したいのかを深く考えた結果、今まで勉強し続けてきたことが専攻科目に最適な選択肢になるのではないかと思いました。高校時代と大学生活の1年間を振り返ってみると、実際に環境保護に長期的に取り組んでおり、その始まりは私が参加したTYCA vol.3でした。私は中学の3年間ドイツにいました。ドイツは世界でも有数の環境先進国なので、環境保護は身近なものでした。しかし、本格的に環境について勉強するのはTYCAが初めてだったかもしれません。また、SDGsやASEAN諸国との協力、再生可能エネルギーの利用について考える良い機会にもなりました。TYCAから約2年後に卒業論文を書かなければならなくなり、日本とドイツの環境保護の比較と、ドイツでの取り組みを日本でどのように実践できるかをテーマに選びました。ドイツ語での勉強会でしたが、ドイツで環境に優しい都市として有名なフライブルク・イム・ブライスガウという街へ実際に行きました。このようなテーマの知識を得続けてきた私は、専攻科目のゼミで環境法を選択することに迷いはありませんでした。日本での将来像を模索していた私は、海外に出ることができなかったので、当時、環境保護やそれに関連することは、自分の将来像を描く上での核心的な要素になると確信していました。COVID-19がなければ、これまでの勉強や将来のことをこれほど真剣に考えることはなかったと思いますし、環境保護を自分の人生のビジョンの重要な要素として捉える機会もなかったと思います。これがCOVID-19の自粛期間が私に与えてくれた最初の恩恵でした。


Annotation of English AI project



Choose your Reaction!