Free Coffee? – I was fascinated. Nothing felt as warm and tender as being able to taste my homeland prestigious flavor in the middle of Waseda campus, 4000km from where it belongs. I wonder why it was there. Looking around the room full of people, I spotted these ladies in my country’s traditional bright clothes, greeting us so enthusiastically; in front of them laid various items from Vietnam’s local market. Soon later, I found out the girl in a flowery black dress to be Yuuka-san, the leader of DOORS – a student organization that has been active in engaging with Vietnamese community to provide education financial aids to those who are in need. The booth, held up during the Waseda Festival, was a souvenir booth used to utilize the profit for that purpose. Intrigued by its appeal, I excused myself to have a short chat over the table with Yuuka-san, while so many visitors walked in and out the room joyfully with their purchase. Invited, it did not take long for me to make the decision to join the circle, as I believe that was the best decision I have made during my first year of university so far.

Student circle in Waseda Festival
DOORS Booth in Waseda Festival – Photo by Yuuka Watanabe

The foundation and mission of DOORS Japan

DOORS was founded in 2003 by a Waseda student, who was Japan-born Vietnamese with the purpose of helping Vietnam to break out of poverty and support disadvantaged children who lack access to higher education. DOORS’ scholarship system was established under the policy of “Providing educational opportunities to as many children as possible.” In order to effectively raise fund for scholarship, DOORS members actively organize plenty of events in Japan such as soccer tournaments or selling Vietnamese souvenir and goods at festivals.

Futsal Tournament with Takara Company in Odaiba
Futsal Tournament with Takara Company in Odaiba

Be the bridge between Japanese-Vietnamese

15 years have passed, and Vietnam is more developed than it has ever been. DOORS has transformed itself to focus on promoting Japanese department and to improve the relationship between Japanese and Vietnamese, whilst carry on its scholarship provision. Every year, DOORS members organize two voluntary trips to Vietnam to first learn about the education conditions of different schools, having school meetings with the principals and establishing strong relationship with partnered schools to hold various exciting events for students to enjoy like school festival and career seminar, then to reach out to students who are in need and granting scholarships. In summer 2018, the organization has granted scholarships equivalent to 250,000 yen to 30 kids in Phuoc Thanh, Cu Chi district. This year 2019, DOORS are getting ready to deliver a series of activities to Vietnamese students and reaching out to more students to make an impact on their lives.

DOORS Scholarship award in Vietnam
DOORS Scholarship award in Vietnam

Be a Bridging Factor

Yuuka-san talked to me about her passion for DOORS and its mission in Vietnam, along with all the sweet memories she has made while being with DOORS, with Vietnamese friends and community. Everything is done voluntarily, at the expense of the team time and effort. Regardless, the team has established a strong bridge between different Japanese universities in Tokyo, and different schools in Vietnam and everybody enjoy spending time working on the project. As a Vietnamese student, I am so amused by the enthusiasm that every team members have in DOORS. From my personal perspective, I am so thankful for having the opportunities to learn more about the relationship between Japan and Vietnam at this micro level. With DOORS, I have seen authentic energy, from those who contribute so much into providing something better for Vietnamese youth.