Skip to main content

UofGH instructor delivers talk on aging at Soka University of Japan

Olivia Boukydis poses

Olivia Boukydis, a University of Guelph-Humber alumna and instructor, visited Soka University in Japan recently to deliver a lecture on the aging population and its global impact.

When preparing the speech at the Tokyo-based university’s global learning seminar, the Family & Community Social Services (FCSS) instructor said she wanted to make sure her insights were framed within the context of the Japanese society.

As it happened, Boukydis’ talk — “Changing Trends in Senior Care and Implications for Practice”— was particularly relevant to the audience at Soka University’s Faculty of Education as almost a quarter of Japan’s current population consists of people 65 or older.

“My preparation was focused on incorporating the aging experience in Japan and what can be expected in the coming years,” said Boukydis, who teaches FCSS’s “Social Work Practice with Older Adults” course. “The lecture reaffirmed my commitment and love for the older adult population. Every time I talk about the subject, I suspect, I have sparked an interest in someone. It just doesn’t get any better than that.”

A recent agreement between the UofGH and Soka University of Japan will now allow students from both institutions opportunities to study abroad.

Soka philosophy: empowering students

It was at the insistence of FCSS Program Head Dr. Paul Sherman that Boukydis agreed to give the speech.

“Olivia delivered a fascinating account of how, globally, services for the elderly need to change and be more compassionate,” Dr. Sherman said. “Soka Education is all about humanistic education. As Olivia discussed, the population around the world is aging, and we certainly have to take care of the elderly in more humanistic ways.”

Boukydis graduated from the FCSS program in 2013. Her knowledge about the Soka philosophy was somewhat limited prior to her visit. The trip, however, opened her eyes, she said.

“What appealed the most to me is the value that students have within the Soka Education,” Boukydis said. “As educators, we always want to emphasize how valuable students are, but in the context of Soka Education, education is measured by one’s ability to meet their potential, to be compassionate and to achieve and practice happiness and good character.”

The Land of the Rising Sun: A trip unlike any

Soka Education is an educational philosophy created by Japanese educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who firmly believed cultivating the happiness of students by nurturing their social consciousness should be the main purpose of education.

Besides the visit to Soka University, the trip to Japan had several inspirational elements, Boukydis noted. She and others from UofGH visited Hiroshima and heard from a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing. The woman’s courage moved them. The trip was part of UofGH’s Study Abroad initiative.

“This visit to Japan contributed to my understanding of education and has changed both my teaching philosophy and my personal philosophy,” Boukydis said. “I am indebted to the remarkable students I went on this journey with.”