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  • Writer's pictureIşıl Tanyeri

Global Student Symposium hosted by Tokyo Metropolitan University

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

I'm excited and humbled to be selected by NYU and Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU) among over a hundred applicants to represent a global student body discussing the fundamental principles of the Tokyo 2020 Games in November 2019. The application process helped me understand and reflect on the Olympic and Paralympic principles and values much more, prepping me for the 'real journey' I hope to embark on in 2020. During this trip, apart from participating in a global symposium, we will be taken to various Olympic and Paralympic sports venues which I cannot wait to see. Today, I'd like to share some of my thoughts from my application essays which got me the incredible opportunity to travel to Tokyo in a few months. Our reaction to events around us is often shaped by the environment we are in. The better I know the place, the culture and the people, the more confident I will be as a freelance journalist during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Needless to say, I look forward to spending time there pre-Tokyo2020 Games!

TMU is looking for students to present on “such topics as ‘Unity in Diversity’ and ‘Connecting to Tomorrow’” which are laid out in the core concepts of the Tokyo 2020 Games, as well as “environmental sustainability, social and cultural diversity, economic development and urban infrastructure.” If selected for this opportunity, what topic would you present on and why? I look forward to presenting on the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’. From my perspective, this is the catalyst for all the core concepts of the Tokyo 2020 Games. Fulfilling the other two is reliant on first achieving ‘Unity in Diversity.’ In order to ‘Achieve our Personal Best’ we need to create a strong support system in which people from all sorts of backgrounds can bring different perspectives to the table. Similarly, ‘Connecting to Tomorrow’ allows us to leverage our differences, so we can use our imagination and creativity for innovative ideas and to help solve some of humanity’s toughest problems. After explaining my understanding of the topic, I would focus my presentation on media representation of disability within the “Unity in Diversity” theme and discuss how representation could be improved through establishing “Unity in Diversity” in our own media teams by including people from different backgrounds, races, and levels of ability, so news stories can truly represent our society. From a personal experience, I saw this firsthand in Rio 2016, when I worked with journalist partners, one of whom had a disability and the other was originally from Brazil. As a team, we complimented one another in such a unique way that made our stories from the Rio Paralympic Games much more engaging, empathetic, creative, and effective. The power of Unity in Diversity was demonstrated in everything we did as a team and allowed us to not only 'achieve our best' but to also 'connect to tomorrow.’

What do you hope to learn about the theme "Unity in Diversity" through the lens of a global student symposium hosted in Japan?

While I have my own perspective on ‘Unity in Diversity’ as a Turkish-native living in New York and working closely with disabled athletes, I look forward to hearing from other students’ perspectives on this important theme. I hope by the end, we will agree that diversity is at the core of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, I was in awe of the diversity I saw, which I wrote about in an article published on MpowerSports in 2016. Apart from athletes themselves, I met a Pakistani volunteer who wanted to learn about Paralympic sports so he could host sports clinics in Lahore for kids with disabilities. I met a Venezuelan journalist who was there to support his sister who competed in powerlifting. I met a Chinese volunteer for whom volunteering at the Paralympic Games was a childhood dream. There is a beautiful Japanese word, called Ikigai which means reason of being or purpose. My shared ikigai in Rio with all these wonderful people and many others was our passion for sports and the Paralympic Movement. In our diversity, we found a perfect unity through our shared purpose. Thus, I am interested in learning about other students’ ikigai for being at the global student symposium at TMU and seeing how our shared sense of purpose would bring us closer as we carry the torch for young generations towards a magnificent Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

I'm looking forward to my trip to Tokyo in November 2019. I'll be sharing updates from my journey with you here. Stay tuned...

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