Wrap-up – Super Happy Sunshine Funtime Tour

Less than two months. It was a short amount of time but enough for a bunch of strangers from fourteen countries to come together. During that time we learned, we played, we had fun, we got frustrated, we overcame, we laughed, and we cried together. And as a group, we successfully completed the World Campus International summer program. Yay!! Congratulations!! 😉

There were great times where everything was peachy and fun. From hiking Mt. Taro, to the walking tours of Tokyo, to attending the Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima. Everything was not always super happy though. There were also demanding times where we met challenges. From our first “Thank-you Event” rehearsal, to our struggles in “getting over the rope”, to our final goodbyes at the airport. Those were difficult times but we always somehow prevailed as a group.

It is hard to imagine the amazing experiences we would share when everyone first stepped off the bus at the Music Village in Ueda City. Everyone seemed so different and I did not know how the group would mesh together or how long it would take. Living together at the Music Village for the first few days obviously allowed us to connect sooner but I would like to commend everyone for being so open and personable to those that would join later. This program can only succeed if everyone works together, plus it is also a lot more fun when everybody gets along. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise for me to see such harmony in so little time.

Although WCI is not an academic program, it is undeniable to state that we all learned much during the tour. Staying with host families offered us the best opportunity to experience Japanese life and culture. What we have learned was not just relegated to Japanese culture either. Because we were such a diverse group, we were able to learn a little bit about the other countries too. We were all put in an uncomfortable situation in a country foreign to many of us with so many different personalities. Such as life, sometimes the personalities conflicted, yet we all learned about ourselves and how to handle such uneasy situations.

It might be cliché to say, but our little community was much like a family. Every one of us went through tremendous highs and deflating lows but we were always there for each other. Although we are parted now, our shared experiences will never be forgotten. Thank you all for the wonderful memories. It is very difficult not to get overly nostalgic when reflecting back on the tour but it was truly a super happy sunshine funtime.

(Guang Yeung, USA)

The Hiroshima Lantern Festival

On August 6th, 2008, World Campus — Japan members along with people from all over the world and local community members participated in the Hiroshima Lantern Festival. The ritual was held on the evening of the anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing. During this festival, blue, green, red, pink, and white cube-shaped lanterns float down the Motoyasugawa River in the twilight. Japanese Buddhists believe that every year the souls of the dead visit their descendants. When the dead return, the lanterns on the river light the path, guiding the spirits of the A-Bomb victims back to heaven.

Despite the large crowds of people, the memory of the solemn event that occurred 63 years ago was still so beautiful and serene.

With strong hopes for world peace, thousands of visitors sent messages to the dead. A few World Campus — Japan members, including me, David, Guang and Ilkka had the special opportunity to partake in the emotional ceremony. Each one of us thoughtfully wrote messages on the colorful pieces of rice paper wishing for world peace, love in the world, and for the spirits to rest in peace. Afterwards, we placed our messages on a wooden lantern frame, lit a candle inside the lantern and set it free downstream to aid the spirits in finding their way home. It was such a wonderful and touching experience to be surrounded by different people from all over the world, all with love and the desire for world peace in their hearts.

(Janice Tsang, USA)

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony

On the surface Hiroshima city is a good example of a well-developed and very industrialized Japanese city. Tall buildings, heavy traffic, and very crowded trains filled with busy Japanese commuters on their way to and from work. You can experience the Japanese lifestyle in Hiroshima, no doubt about that.

But the name of the city hides a more terrible side, a side which most people around the world are more aware of. Most of the world is more familiar with the fact that Hiroshima was the place where the first Atomic Bomb in world history was dropped on a city. In the morning of August 6, 2008, we participated in the annual peace memorial ceremony. The ceremony lasted for one hour with a silent prayer and peace bell at 8.15 (the exact time of the A-bomb drop) as its emotional highlight.

The mood was very melancholy and heartfelt during the day. Almost half a million people from Japan and abroad gathered at the ceremony in honour of the 80,000 people that past away on August 6, 1945, the approximately 60,000 people who died in the very first year directly caused of the radiation around Hiroshima and the Hibakusha, the people who survived the bomb with a life of sickness and emotional scars. Everyone of course recognized the all-important theme of the ceremony – Peace.

Prominent persons such as the Prime Minister of Japan, a representative of the United Nations, as well as the mayor of Hiroshima spoke at the ceremony. Among the things they talked about was how important it is not to forget what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in order to avoid the usage of nuclear weapons in the future. To achieve this universal goal it is necessary for countries to be empathic towards each other, even when it is hard to understand different customs and opinions sometimes.

We can not change the past, but by respecting other countries and cultures, we minimize the risk for future wars.

With the hope nuclear weapons never will be used again,

(Christian Damgaard, Denmark)

A-bomb illustration of “One to One”

At first sight, Matsubara-san seemed no different from any other mid-aged or elderly woman. Perhaps one distinguishing factor was a sense of strong will power that seeped out through her rather heavy make-up and vigorous eyes with an uncanny sense of determination about them.

They say human beings have hundreds of facial muscles, but the facial expressions she showed during the forty-five minute speech seemed almost overly intense and vivid. She later mentioned that she was one among numerous A-bomb survivors that underwent a multitude of surgeries to hide away the scars. Whether that was one cause of those eerie expressions, I will never know.

The English that came out of her mouth did not amaze me (though it is quite unusual for Japanese women of her age) as much as the will power that produced it. Her graphic, eidetic drawings also clearly indicated her determination to share and pass on the utter horrors of the atomic bomb. In my eyes, this embodied the essence of art: a direct outlet for her emotions and a tool for communicating events and emotions that cannot be expressed in words.

We were very fortunate to be able to hear the experience of an A-bomb survivor in person, and I greatly appreciate Matsubara-san’s willingness to share an uneasy story to tell. At the same tie, Matsubara-san herself expressed a deep sense of gratitude toward one American woman in particular for her compassionate generosity in post-war Japan, when even the Japanese would step away from “contaminated” individuals like herself. In my understanding, such acts of kindness was what enabled Matsubara-san to gradually learn to accept and forgive what had been done to her life, and to devote herself to passing on the giving spirit to us.

Only later did I notice the remarkable connection of the lesson I learnt from studying the effects of the A-bomb in Hiroshima to our World Campus International Arigato Evento song. Yes indeed, it starts with “one to one”, and “everyone can touch someone”. Thanks to that kind American lady, I gained a valuable life-lesson from Matsubara-san. But this could go on infinitely… who shall I thank, that motivated the American lady’s act of kindness?

(Yuki Yoshida, Japan)

Visiting the Mito Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear Power Scheme

In Denmark we do not use nuclear energy at all and are generally highly against the use of nuclear energy, but I thought it sounded exciting to visit Japan’s oldest nuclear power plant in Mito city and learn more about the use of nuclear energy. Apparently about 30% of Japan’s energy resources come from nuclear energy and there are 55 nuclear power plants spread out all over Japan.

The day before we actually visited the Nuclear power plant, we were divided into two large groups, and here we discussed what we actually knew or thought we knew about the use of nuclear energy. We had a wrap up at the end, and the two groups presented what they had discussed. This gave a good insight to the topic and we had some good discussions.

The following day we visited Japan’s first nuclear power plant, which was built in 1966. First we were driven by bus to a museum-like building where we had a very interesting lecture by Dr. Keizo Takahashi. He told us how the nuclear power plant works and how the energy is produced and distributed (See the illustration above). He also told us his perspective on the pros and cons of nuclear power, although it was obvious that he supported the use of nuclear power. One of the pros is that it does not produce CO2 and therefore does not contribute to global warming, which is a big global concern at the moment. The main problem with the use of nuclear power is the waste disposal, because Uranium continues to stay radioactive for many decades. It is hard to dispose of the nuclear waste in an environmentally friendly way. Apparently Sweden has found a way to dispose of their nuclear waste, but the system is very hard to copy for other nations due to their natural resources.

Another problem is the rare, but catastrophic nuclear accidents, like Chernobyl in 1986. It literally affected millions of people for several generations, so the safety precautions must be at its highest! Uranium, which is the dangerous and radioactive element, is not artificially made, but it is a natural resource, and Canada is by far has the greatest exporter of Uranium in the world.

After lunch we discussed the use of atomic bombs, which countries possessed it and general questions regarding this topic. It was very exciting to learn more about this, but at the same time shocking to hear how little impact the inspections have and how relatively small the fines are for offending countries.

Later on, we were given a tour of the nuclear facility, which was exciting. We also saw a proton accelerator, which was still under construction.

The world’s energy resources is running out, for example will the worlds coal reserves be emptied in 150 years if we continue like we do now. Is nuclear power an alternative? I must admit, that I have a hard time deciding…

(Anders Schaumann, Denmark)