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Name: Oussouby Sacko
Title: President of Kyoto Seika University
URL: www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp/eng/
Hometown: Bamako, Mali
Years in Japan: 30


What was your first encounter with Japan?

Oussouby Sacko | © KYOTO SEIKA UNIVERSITY
Oussouby Sacko | © KYOTO SEIKA UNIVERSITY

I first came to Japan in the summer of 1990. I didn’t really know anything about Japan at the time, but I had befriended Japanese classmates in China and heard about Japan through conversations with them. That trip had a big impression on me. We stayed with a host family in a shitamachi [old working-class area] in Tokyo. I was really impressed by the hospitality and politeness of my host family and everyone in the neighborhood. I’m still in contact with that host family, and we exchange nengajō [New Year’s cards] every year.

Is there a personal motto, individual or book that has inspired you?

Nelson Mandela is someone who really impressed me. My knowledge of him is superficial, but to be humble and emphasize education are important to me. Kofi Annan was also someone I looked up to. I try to see how I can make change in whatever society I’m situated in, whether it’s Mali or Japan.

Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

As president of Kyoto Seika University, I helped break down the barriers between Japanese students and international students. My team opened all entrance exams to prospective international students and integrated the university’s support offices so that international students could be treated equally.
The results were interesting, because, for the first time, prospective international students were able to compete with Japanese students on a level playing field, whereas before they were only able to compete among themselves. We found that some foreign nationals surpassed Japanese students in terms of Japanese-language ability and in other fields such as manga. Japan had never given international students that chance before.

Reflecting my thoughts about community ownership, I organized the renovation of a university building to be used solely as a commons area. I’m always trying to encourage students to be part of the university, to take ownership of their learning environment. In addition, I established the Human Environment Design Program, which focuses on architecture study grounded in environmental and human behavior.

What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

I will finish my first term as president of Kyoto Seika University, but in the future, I hope to utilize my experiences here to improve the learning environments of universities in Africa and the developing world.

For the full article, please visit: https://sustainable.japantimes.com/lr

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