Vegan and SDGs: Is it time to go vegan? (IE Program Lecture Series)

Nadia McKechnie

In this talk, given by the talented and versatile Nadia McKechnie, we will look at what it means to be vegan, how popular veganism is becoming, and the reasons driving the global vegan trend, particularly among millennials.  How a shift to a vegan lifestyle can help us meet SDGs (the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals), as well as lower the risk of future pandemics, will also be covered.

So, in the course of this talk you will find answers to such questions as:

  • What does it mean to be vegan? 
  • Just how popular is veganism?
  • What is the reason behind the global vegan trend?
  • How can a vegan lifestyle help us meet SDG goals?
  • What is the connection between being vegan and preventing future pandemics?

TITLE: Vegan and SDGs: Is it time to go vegan?
WHEN: December 1, 2022 (Thursday), 13:20~14:50 (3rd period)
WHERE: AGU; Aoyama Campus; Room 910 (1st floor of Building 9) Click here.
TARGET AUDIENCE: All English Department IE students and any other interested students and faculty. individuals from outside of the university are also welcome.

Write questions that you would like to ask Nadia using THIS FORM.

Biography of Nadia McKechnie

Originally from London UK, Nadia McKechnie has been involved in the Japan vegan scene since 2013 as the organizer of Tokyo Vegan Meetup–the biggest vegan event group in Japan with over 8,700 members. (Winner of The Japan Vegetarian award for best vegan community group in 2019.)

Nadia is an active member of the Veggy Council Japan,  a bipartisan committee of lawmakers and vegan-interested groups set up in 2019, in the Japan government, with the aim of making Japan more vegan-friendly.

Nadia is very well connected in Japan’s as well as the global vegan scene , often sharing information as well as media comments, writing essays and giving talks.  

In 2022, Nadia established Vegan Consulting Japan Co., Ltd. (joint CEO) with the aim of helping Japan companies join the growing worldwide vegan market. 

Apart from her vegan activities, Nadia has a successful 25 career as a narrator ( NHK/ commercial/educational, etc) & is the author of best-selling English language learning books & materials.

To be better prepared for the event, learn a bit about the connection between what we eat and the environment by watching this video:

Rachael Lucas will also speak briefly during this session about her efforts to help both Japanese and foreign residents of Japan accurately identify what food items are vegan, which is not as easy a task as you might imagine it to be. Alex Derycz and Rachael Lucas will join Nadia on the stage for a panel discussion at the end of the talk.

Biography of Rachael Lucas

She has lived in Japan for 15 out of the last 17 years. Originally from California, USA, Rachael Lucas has been involved in the Japan vegan scene since 2018 as content creator for the website Is it Vegan? (Japan), one of the largest English-language vegan websites in the country, with more than 100,000 pageviews annually. It introduces vegan food products, ingredients, personal care products, and more. 

Rachael Lucas

She also shares information about veganism as administrator of Facebook groups and on Instagram, as well as by writing articles.  Apart from her vegan activities, Rachael spends her free time helping stray cats and picking up garbage in her neighborhood.

Biography of Alex Derycz

Alex Derycz is currently working as a vegan/sustainable lifestyle influencer to help promote plant-based diets in a fun and accessible way for Japanese audiences. He moved to Japan 5 years ago after graduating from UCLA and speaks 5 languages.

Instagram –
Twitter –

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Paying it forward in Nepal (IE Program Lecture Series)

Wishing to give back to his country, Nepal, Sharad Rai founded YouMe School in his remote village in Nepal in 2011. The organization he founded built a second school in 2017. Currently, there are more than 500 students studying in those schools. Some children have to commute on foot more than four hours every day to get to the school. Still, they are determined to attend YouMe School. Sharad Rai finds that there is nothing more exciting or fulfilling than shaping the future of young children. He will be sharing his story of building schools in Nepal and how his organization is shaping the future of kids in his village through education.

TITLE: Giving back to one’s country by building schools in Nepal: Sharad Rai’s story of the founding and actions of YouMe Nepal
WHEN: December 6, 2022 (Tuesday), 13:20~14:50 (3rd period)
WHERE: AGU; Aoyama Campus; Room 922 (2nd Fl of Building 9) Click here.
TARGET AUDIENCE: All English Department IE students and any other interested students and faculty. individuals from outside of the university are also welcome.

Write questions that you would like to ask Mr. Rai using THIS FORM.


Sharad Rai is the founder and president of the non-profit organization YouMe Nepal, which has directly touched the lives of more than 25,000 kids all over Nepal. He is also the founder and CEO of asha & company and TERAKOYA Academia.

To be better prepared for the event learn why Sharad Rai built a school in his hometown:

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Talk on Japanese American History and Identity (IE Program Lecture Series)

Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks’ lecture incorporates a diasporic multicultural Japanese American history and experience through the lens of his wife’s pioneer family (she is a Sansei; third generation Japanese American), his family (an interracial “War Bride” family) and his intersectional family linking multiple communities within and outside the Japanese American community. In particular, Dr. Takada Rooks examines the notions of ethnic community revitalization, retention and resilience in the face of the challenges of COVID-19 and racial unrest. Ample time will be provided to interact with Dr. Rooks, so bring plenty of questions.

EVENT: Talk on “A Japanese America Story: Resilience, Retention and Revitalization”
WHEN: December 9, 2022 (Friday), 13:20~14:50 (3rd period)
WHERE: AGU; Aoyama Campus; 17-311 (3rd Fl of Building 17) Click here.
TARGET AUDIENCE: All English Department IE students and any other interested students and faculty. individuals from outside of the university are also welcome.

Prepare questions for Dr. Rooks by clicking on THIS FORM.


Born in Kanagawa Japan to a native Japanese mother and African American father, Dr. Rooks earned his B.A. in 1979 with a double major in Economics and Asian Studies (honors) from Dartmouth College. He received his M.A. in Public Policy from Trinity College in 1982 and his Ph.D. in Comparative Culture from the University of California, Irvine. In 1996, he was a University of California Regents Fellow. Prior to his appointment at LMU, Dr. Takada Rooks was a tenured assistant professor in Asian American Studies at San Jose State University.

His research interests include applied community-based research focusing on Asian American and Pacific Islander civic engagement, cultural competency in community health and ethnic community development. Current projects include an examination of AAPI community civic engagement organizations’ multilateral responses to COVID-19, the racial unrest in the wake the murder of George Floyd, and voter participation. A second research trajectory focuses on Asian American multiracial identity and diversity.

To be better prepared for the event and to learn something about Japanese American cultural history, check out this informative website:

Also, refer to these articles to be even better prepared:

His full biography: カーティス・タカダ・ルークス (Curtiss Takada Rooks)


Reflections on Being Mixed, but Not Mixed Up

On Being Japanese American

Teachers can have their students do this task to help them prepare for the talk:

[Answer key available upon request.]

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United Nations University Events

Just across the street from Aoyama Gakuin University is another university that serves as a global think tank and postgraduate teaching organization, the United Nations University. This unique university is meant to serve as a bridge between the international academic community and the United Nations system.


The UN University frequently hosts public lectures and symposia for the general public on topics of general interest.  On September 28th, from 18:30 – 19:30, the UN University will host a talk entitled “India at 75”, a Conversation with Prof. Marie Lall.” To attend, you’ll need to register at There will be a reception afterwards where you can speak to participants casually and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages.

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Short-term paid internship available

EnglishCentral, a Global IT company for English language education, is offering a short-term paid internship program in the Summer of 2022. The web services provided by EnglishCentral are being used in the English Department’s Integrated English Program and in classes at other departments at AGU. 

EnglishCentral holds internship programs every year in spring and summer, and this summer it is scheduled from Monday, August 29th to Friday, September 9th. By joining the internship program for 10 days, not only can students take part in helping out with the company’s tasks, but they can also get to know the atmosphere and the corporate culture of a venture company.

The duties include taking part in the company’s tasks such as checking the contents of videos used for educational purposes, getting involved in projects where you can plan, produce and present your own videos and, possibly, manage the operation of the company’s social media. By working online or offline with other interns from all over Japan, students can increase their independent thinking and teamwork skills.

In addition, by using the same communication tools (Skype, Zoom, Google Meets) and services (Google Docs, Google Sheets) as our employees, the interns can develop their basic PC skills which will be useful in the future. We also believe that our internship program—which has students thinking and allocating time for their tasks by themselves— gives them room to improve their multi-tasking skills as well.

Here is the URL where students can find the application guidelines:  

Note that…

  • English proficiency isn’t required for application, but it will be necessary for certain tasks.
  • Students who have never used the services of EnglishCentral can feel free to participate.
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Teacher Education Event on Accessibility and Lifelong Language Learning (online)

Four speakers, 2 from JALT’s Lifelong Language Learning Special Interest Group and 2 from JALT’s Accessibility in Language Learning Special Interest Group, will speak about how to accommodate neurodiverse students through technology and other means, issues related to retirement planning, and continuing lifelong learning into one’s “retirement” years. 

EVENT: Joint Mini Conference of JALT’s Accessibility in Language Learning &
                Lifelong Language Learning Special Interest Groups
WHEN: February 26, 2022 (Saturday),  (10:00~13:20)
WHERE: Online (through Zoom); access the RSVP form HERE.
Anyone interested in lifelong language learning or neurodiversity.


[Times listed according to Japan Standard Time (JST)]

10:00 – 10:05 — Intro and Welcome [Zoom Room open from 9:50]

10:10 – 10:50 — Educators’ Retirement Planning: Pensions and Other Income (Gregory Strong)

10:55 – 11:25 —  Lifelong Learning and Retiring Retirement Stereotypes (Steve McCarty)

11:30 – 12:00 — Meeting the educational needs of neurodiverse and neurotypical students through technology (Alexandra Burke)

12:05 – 12:35 — Meeting Halfway: Supporting learners who have difficulty attending English conversation classes (Michael Y. Yap)

12:40 – 13:20 — Extended Q&A and Free Discussion

There will be plenty of opportunities for interaction with the guest speakers and other participants.

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A Talk Event on Modern Slavery

An organization working to stop human trafficking and modern slavery, Not For Sale Japan, will be holding an online event (in English) in the evening of January 19, 2022 (Wed.) on the theme “Modern Slavery: Measuring a Hidden Problem.” Full details about the event can be found at:

Their guest speakers, Ms. Brittany Quy and Ms. Elly Williams, work for Walk Free (Australia). They estimate that there are 40.3 million people living in modern slavery worldwide. The presenters will discuss how the scale of modern slavery can be measured and what modern slavery looks like in Japan and Australia. In addition, they will explore how COVID-19 has impacted the situation.

EVENT: Modern Slavery: Measuring a Hidden Problem
SPEAKERS: Brittany Quy & Elly Williams
WHEN: January 19, 2022 (Wed.) 19:00-20:30
WHERE: Online (Zoom)
LANGUAGE: Mainly English (Japanese can also be used in Q&A)
TARGET AUDIENCE: IE students and any other interested parties
RESERVATION: Use the link below to fill in the reservation form. They will send the Zoom link to your email address 2 hours prior to the event:

   《Guest Speakers’ Bios

Ms. Brittany Quy is a Research and Policy Officer at Walk Free, an international human rights organisation based in Perth, Western Australia. Brittany focuses on researching modern slavery in the Asia Pacific region, and contributes to Walk Free’s flagship publication, the Global Slavery Index, which assesses country-level prevalence, vulnerability, and government responses to modern slavery. Brittany holds a Master of International Relations and a Master of International Law, and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia.

Ms. Elly Williams is a Research Analyst at Walk Free, an international human rights organisation working to accelerate the end of all forms of modern slavery. Elly contributes to Walk Free’s quantitative and qualitative research with input into the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery and Global Slavery Index. Elly is passionate about providing an evidence base for modern slavery across the globe, and leads Walk Free’s research engagement in the Africa region. Elly holds a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor of Biomedical Science from the University of Western Australia.

Walk Free is an international human rights group dedicated to accelerating the end of modern slavery in all its forms. Through a combination of direct implementation, grassroots community engagement, and working in partnership with faiths, businesses, academics, NGOs, communities, and governments around the world, they work to address modern slavery and dismantle its core drivers.

   《Useful Resources

Global Slavery Index 2018 Japan Report:

Sponsored by Not For Sale Japan, which works on issues of human trafficking and modern slavery, NFSJ Cafe is a casual learning experience where interested participants and NFSJ staff talk about a theme or watch a film over a cup of tea.

Contact: [email protected]

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Lecture & Concert by Bluesman Steve Gardner


Born in Mississippi in 1956, Steve Gardner is an accomplished blues musician and photographer, having studied photojournalism at the University of Southern Mississippi and blues from the “School of Hard Knocks.” After working as a photojournalist in the States, he came to Japan, where he has freelanced for Japanese magazines as well as for Time and Newsweek. The interest in the blues that he found in Japan led him to create a picture book on Mississippi and the blues, Rambling Mind (1994). His first CD, “Rambling With The Blues” (2002) is this book’s musical counterpart. He recorded another CD in New Orleans, Louisiana, “Walkin’ the dog” (2008), and his newest release is an album named “Miz Sally’s Yellow Cat Song Book” (2015), which is about–and dedicated to–his mom, Miz Sally. His latest project is Miz Sally’s Yellow Cat Song Book and Dementia Drawings.

Through his music and stories, Steve Gardner will take us on a journey from the world at large to Mississippi and show us where the blues came from — both geographically and spiritually.

EVENT: Open Lecture/ Concert
WHEN: December 10, 2021 (Friday), 3rd Period (13:20~14:50)
WHERE: Aoyama Campus of AGU, Building 11  (Room 1173) & over Zoom
TARGET AUDIENCE: IE students and any other interested parties who love music

HANDOUT: Roots Workshop Worksheet PDF

Friday IE Core and IE Seminar teachers and their classes–as well as any other teachers and students who can make it–should feel free to participate in this special event.

Here is an article about Steve Gardner that was written by a professor in our department, Wayne Pounds, for the Metropolis magazine. It shows some of Mr. Gardner’s excellent photography and puts his music into historical context.

Click on the graphic (below) to access some fine blues songs about southern cooking, especially the art of barbecue.


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Job Hunting / Career preparation events  (Online via Zoom)

On November 9th and December 1st there will be some online talks given by career support staff from MyNavi that are intended to help 2nd year students prepare for job hunting. The content of the lecture will be the same on both days. Interested students should register via the Student Portal and the Zoom meeting link will be sent to them. See information about it below:

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Talk and performance by Gohei Nishikawa

This will be a talk and performance by a distinguished world-class pianist who has performed in such venues as New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as–more recently–at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in Tokyo. Originally from Osaka, Gohei Nishikawa did not begin studying piano until he was fifteen years old, but his speedy progress led to his graduation from the Osaka College of Music and a bold move to the US to pursue a career as a professional pianist.

Not long after moving to the U.S., Gohei Nishikawa began to suffer from a neurological disorder called dystonia, which affects bodily control and movement. At one point, this medical condition made it impossible for him to play the piano. However, through years of painstaking rehabilitation, he gradually regained his ability to play with his right hand, and with two fingers on his left hand. His comeback began in 2008 when he played at an International Music Festival in Italy. In 2009, Mr. Nishikawa achieved a prize at an international piano competition for pianists with disabilities in Vancouver, Canada. In 2012, he had an opportunity to give a speech and performance at Gracie Mansion, the New York City Mayor’s residence.

Five years ago, Gohei Nishikawa returned to Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium as a 7-fingered pianist. Since then, he has been performing, in person and on television, all over the world. In 2015, Gohei’s autobiography was published and NHK made a documentary about his life in 2016. Panasonic chose him for a worldwide TV commercial in 2017. This year you may have seen Gohei Nishikawa performing at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Read more about Gohei by referring to this newspaper article about his life and work.

EVENT: Talk and piano concert
TITLE: Connecting people through narrative and music in the best of times and in the worst of times: From Carnegie Hall to the Paralympics
WHEN: November 25, 2021 (Thursday), 3rd Period (13:20~14:50)
WHERE: Aoyama Campus, Room 1134 & over Zoom
LANGUAGE: English (without simultaneous interpretation)
TARGET AUDIENCE: IE students and any other interested parties

NOTE: For the link to the Zoom session, apply (using your official AGU email address) by writing to ApplyAoyamaGakuin [AT] . Of course, substitute @ for the [AT]. IE Core and IE Seminar students will be offered the link by their teacher.

Looking to the future…

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