Yu-Ai November issue 2018 — USA PAX report by Miho Nishii

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

 

Thinking back on the 2018 PAX Tour To America:
Peace from a True Spirit of Volunteerism

Miho Nishii

 

I joined PAX Tour to America from September 17th to September 28th as one of 4 PAX members. We visited 4 places: Elgin and Bloomington – Normal in Illinois; Wilmington and Bluffton in Ohio, to make presentations about peace.

The experiences of having met a lot of people with volunteer spirits in America changed my understanding of volunteerism . I learned that family units in America are open to society and people naturally work for the community as volunteers. It seemed that volunteering work are not hard obligations but delightful opportunities for each of volunteers to help people with needs. They seemingly valued individuality.

I was invited to make my presentations, including short self-introductions, at least 12 times in all during the tour. Although I was not sure if I could make my presentations understood because of my clumsy English, I was very impressed that the people I met in America tried to sincerely listen to and understand my presentations about peace.  Thinking back on my presentations, each opportunity was so precious to me, even if I was not satisfied with my poor English.

As the length of this paper is limited, I am not able to introduce every presentation and what happened in this tour, but here I would like to write about the very impressive one, the panel at Illinois Wesleyan University on September 22nd.. It was so impressive because during that 2-hour panel I had been so nervous, had felt uneasy and had been very moved by the presentations of the other panelists. I was aware that the other panelists could speak near-native English and had been very experienced with peace issues. On the other hand, I believed that the heart of my idea about peace (the title was “the Spirit of the Memorial Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims” ) was connected to theirs and those of each of the persons working for world peace.

About 30 minutes before the panel was finished , one Chinese man from the audience had very strong comment on my presentation, blaming the Japanese people for atrocities in China during WWⅡ. I apologized him for the Japan’s atrocities and explained the idea of my presentation, quoting the words of the former Hiroshima Mayer Shinzo Hamai: “There is no winner and no loser in a war. The cenotaph exists for mourning the dead and taking an oath not to bring about wars”.

I don’t know if my response was persuasive to him and I also hope my response was understood by the audience. I remember the moment when I was relieved to hear the clapping of hands from the audience.

I appreciate all the people who were involved in organizing this PAX tour and those who hosted us PAX members for giving us this precious opportunity.

 

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