11 November 2012

Interview with Paul Hastings from the JICUF

Today I am interviewing Paul Hastings that I met during the Aspen Forum 2012. He is the current Vice President of the Japan International Christian University Foundation (JICUF), currently living in New York but has spent 11 years in Japan when he was only 4 .He is passionate about international educational exchange and he feels that the best part of his job is the knowledge that their programs can sometimes change lives. Let's learn a bit more about him and his activities in the following interview.

    • Tell us a bit about your background. 
    At the age of four I moved with my family to Japan, where I subsequently spent eleven formative years. I attended a Japanese elementary school until third grade and then studied at Canadian Academy in Kobe and the American School in Japan in Tokyo, where I graduated in 2000. I returned to the United States after high school and enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, graduating with a degree in Comparative Religion in 2004. I worked as a community organizer (like President Obama) in Maryland/Washington DC for one year before travelling to northeastern India to work on a grassroots educational project in the town of Kalimpong in the Darjeeling Province of West Bengal. Then, in 2006 I moved to New York City and began working for the Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF). In April 2012 I was offered the position of Vice President at the JICUF. In 2012 I also graduated with my MA in Comparative International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
    • Tell us what pushed you to pursue your current career. 
    I am passionate about international educational exchange. For me, living and studying in Japan as a child, in Sri Lanka and small town Maine during college, and in India after college have all been incredibly formative. I have had the privilege of witnessing a diversity of human experience, from rural to urban, poor to wealthy, avant-garde to traditional. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such rich life experiences, and I want to do all I can to provide others with similar opportunities.
    • What do you enjoy the most about your current activities?
    The JICUF seeks to offer life-changing experiences to people who participate in our programs. For example, we provide needs-based scholarships to students from economically less privileged regions of the world to attend ICU. These scholarships are often life-changing for the recipients. The 2012 Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum, which we co-sponsored and co-organized, is another example. We brought together 100 people from 22 countries on the ICU campus to discuss various ways to achieve peace and reconciliation through the use of creative and artistic resources. There are so many aspects of my work that I enjoy, but the best part of my job is the knowledge that our programs can sometimes change lives.
    • What are the current challenges that you are facing and how could the people reading this interview help you? 
    Like any organization, we experience numerous challenges. One challenge we face is the difficulty of working with colleagues at ICU. The JICUF is a small and agile organization with five full-time employees, but ICU is a university with hundreds of faculty, staff and thousands of students and alumni. Aligning priorities and getting everyone on board to implement programs can be a difficult task. Online productivity and team-building software such as Basecamp has helped us, but we continuously look for better ways to work internally, with colleagues at ICU and with external partner organizations.
    • How familiar are you with the concept of gamification?
    Yes, I am familiar with the concept. I used Foursquare for a while, but got tired of checking in. I sometimes "check in" on Facebook.
    • If you are, do you think it could useful to your organization?
     I'm not sure how gamification could help us at the JICUF, but I could imagine it being rather popular at ICU.
    • Are you familiar with Corporate Social Responsibility?
    Yes, I am fairly familiar with CSR. My wife used to work for Innovest, which was acquired by MSCI, an investment research company that according to its website "provides in-depth research, ratings and analysis of the environmental, social and governance-related business practices of thousands of companies worldwide."
    • What would be your advice to companies, who struggle to engage their employees to their CSR activities? (Volunteering, donation to NGOs, etc..) 
    CSR needs to be embedded into the culture of any company/organization. Of course, there will be some employees that more actively take part in volunteer efforts, fundraising and other CSR activities than others. Leadership in the CSR arena needs to come from the very top of any organization. There is nothing better than leading by example.
    • How do you feel about companies using CSR activities for their marketing.
    I think it's fine as long as its not just window dressing without substance behind it.
    • Are you using any social networks and why do you think it could be beneficial for corporations to start using them?

    We have an active Facebook page and Twitter account. Social media is integrated throughout our website.

     It is wonderful to see the growth of the NPO sector in Japan, and ikifu.org is an essential component of this growth. I am looking forward to exploring ways in which ICU and the JICUF can partner with ikifu.org.
    • If you could use crowdfunding for one of your dream, what would it be for? 
    Music is my hobby and passion, and I would probably use crowd funding to help produce my debut album.

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