The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) once again showed its benevolence by funding 30students from Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, East Timor, Egypt, Georgia,Ghana, Greece, India, Iraq, Japan, Liberia,Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Togo and Vietnam, to pursue post graduate degrees at the World Maritime University in Malmö. This year is historical as it recorded the highest number of Sasakawa Fellowship students at WMU.
In true SPF tradition, these students, who were all in attendance, were warmly welcomed at the orientation event on September 22, 2017, in the Sasakawa Auditorium at WMU. The event is an integral part of the SPF’s annual calendar, as it creates a conducive platform to foster integration between the graduating Class of 2017 and the incoming Sasakawa sponsored students in a network that promotes and facilitates lifelong communication.
The event was officiated by Mr. Mirza Zeeshan Baig, as the Director of Proceedings, a student from the graduating Class of 2017 who could not hide his joy at being given the opportunity to advance his academic qualifications at the World Maritime University. The orientation program began with a group photograph of both Classes outside WMU, followed by opening remarks by Mr. Tsutomu Akita, Senior Specialist at SPF, who emphasized the importance ofmaking connections with other Sasakawa Fellows. The purpose is to advance the network through nurturing and maintaining relationships among Fellows, independent of those activities cultivated by SPF.This was followed by a presentation by Mr. Shinichi Ichikawa, providing information on the Sasakawa Fellowship Program and its relation to The Nippon Foundation and Japan's Boat Race. He delivered a synopsis of how revenue from the famous boat race is directed to philanthropic activities and how the fellowship program benefits from this noble gesture.
The Class of 2017 followed with presentations of their experience at WMU reflecting back to the time they arrived in Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden. Representatives from the different course specializations were: Leena Kagola (Namibia), Maritime Education & Training; Johan Solórzano (Honduras), Shipping Management & Logistics; Mohammad Azizul Moula (Bangladesh), Port Management; Aynur Maharranova (Azerbaijan), Maritime Law & Policy; Mohmmed Shahnawaz (India), Marine Safety & Environmental Administration; Mark Philip Cassar (Malta), Maritime Energy Management; and Rachel Bare–Anita (Solomon Islands), Ocean Sustainability, Governance and Management. Ms. Bare–Anita‘s presentation was very captivating because her specialization in the Class of 2017 was the first in the history of WMU and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Presenters shared valuable insights on ideal ways of coping with studies and how best to maximize learning opportunities during field studies, as well as not forgetting to have fun.
The most memorable experience that distinguished the Sasakawa Fellowship students from the others, according to the Class of 2017, was the very popular visit to Japan where they met Dr.Sasakawa, their benefactor, as one of the highlights.The opportunity to crisscross Japan and spend time at the boat race will forever leave a positive mark on their lives.
All 27 students from the Class of 2017 and 30 students from Class of 2018 were given the opportunity to introduce themselves as a start to expanding the network among Fellows. The event also discussed the best ways to build and maintain the network. Preference was given to everexpanding social media as a tool to keep the network alive. The Class of 2018 nominated Ngu Kay Khine (Myanmar) to be the focal point in updating the database of the 2017/18 students, and Naohiro Saito (Japan) was tasked with the responsibility of identifying a tool as a communication platform.
A reception followed at the WMU World Bistro, where students mingled and socialized in a more relaxed atmosphere. The event was graced with the presence of WMU President, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry and her husband, who were generously interacting with students and sharing memorable experiences of their days as students. The WMU President thanked The Nippon Foundation for their extraordinary, ongoing support for maritime capacity-building by providing fellowships to WMU students, thereby equipping them with knowledge for the benefit of their nations and the world.
In the closing remarks, Nadeeka Jaysundara Mudiyanselage (Sri Lanka) from the Class of 2017 extended profound gratitude on behalf of the 2017 recipients of The Nippon Foundation & SPF for providing a life-changing opportunity to them all. She also thanked the staff and management of the World Bistro for a delicious dinner. Special appreciation was also extended to Ms. Lyndell Lundahl, the WMU staff member who works tirelessly to make sure that Sasakawa Fellowship students are not stressed during their time in Malmö.