Letters from HUAP

Dr. Akihito Ikushima

Dentist, General Manager of the Mikuni Dental Clinic Hanoi Corporation, Chairperson of the Hokkaido University Hanoi Elm Association, appointed as a Hokkaido University Ambassador in November 2018

When I received an offer to become a Hokkaido University Ambassador, I was amazed at how far Hokkaido University (HU) had expanded its overseas alumni network. At first, I was of two minds about accepting the offer, because I’d played only a coordinating role for a local alumni association. When I learned about the university’s commitment to its globalization, however, I thought it would be an honor to serve as an ambassador to help my alma mater fulfill its commitment.

I’m from Sapporo and I’ve known about HU since childhood, and I’d dreamed of going to university there. Looking back, I can find only good memories from my college days, partly because my generation benefited from the economic bubble. The vast, verdant campus is the best place I could ever hope to be in Sapporo and the place I never fail to visit when I temporarily return to my home country.

After graduating from HU, I joined the Japan Voluntary Dental Organization (JAVDO) and visited Vietnam three times to provide free dental services while working for a Hokkaido company. Through this experience, I formed an attachment to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, which ultimately led me to take up the position of representative among the inaugurating members of Mikuni Dental Clinic Hanoi in 2015. Since 2018, I’ve also served as an instructor at Tra Vinh University, a public university in Vietnam.

As a Hokkaido University Ambassador, I’ve been helping with the university’s international promotional activities by forwarding e-mail newsletters to Hanoi Elm Association members, distributing promotional brochures that arrive by post, and by explaining the university’s globalization at get-togethers of the association. As was the case before I became a Hokkaido University Ambassador, I also give send-off parties for Vietnamese students going to HU and hold welcome parties for Japanese HU students visiting Hanoi for internships, study-abroad programs, and the like.

There’s a world of difference between Hanoi and Sapporo. While the average age of Japanese citizens is 46, the highest in the world, that of Vietnam is 30. It’s a country whose cities overflow with young people and give everyone a sense of vitality. Cities are flooded with motorbikes, with noise from horns sounding through the streets all the time, and the skies are always hazy from pollution. Even so, Vietnam is a pleasant place to live, because it’s warm year-round and has no pollen, the cause of hay fever.

In July 2019, the Hokkaido University ASEAN Office in Hanoi opened at a joint office with the Vietnam National University, Hanoi–University of Science (VNU-HUS). With the establishment of a point of contact nearby, HU has greater potential for engaging in activities in aide range of fields.

HU alumni in Vietnam are happy to welcome visitors from Japan. I believe that in-person exchanges with HU representatives will enable local alumni to better understand the university’s initiatives for internationalization and their present situation, which in turn helps establish a local structure for cooperation with HU’s international programs. If a Vietnamese Alumni Association is founded, local alumni will work closely with the Hokkaido University Elm Alumni Association, not to mention the Hanoi Elm Association, to provide opportunities for Japanese and Vietnamese people to do business together. The breadth of their activities will further expand if they have information about Vietnamese students enrolled at HU.

Hanoi flooded with motorbikes.

Members of the Hokkaido University Saigon Elm Association at the 11th Seven Universities Golf Competition in Ho Chi Minh City.

Staff at Mikuni Dental Clinic Hanoi.

Lotte Center Hanoi, a landmark completed in September 2014. This high-rise complex tops out at 267 meters, with 65 stories above ground and 5 stories below ground, and it houses an observation deck, business offices, a hotel, serviced apartments and more. Mikuni Dental Clinic Hanoi is on the 8th floor of this building.

幾島 章仁 氏