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Yu-Ai November issue 2018 — USA PAX report by Mirei Tashiro

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

 

In retrospect of the PAX Tour USA
Foundations of Peace

 

The 12 day PAX Tour was, for me, an experience of many “beginnings.”

My daily experiences and realizations led to seeing Hiroshima through an outside perspective and to think of “peace” in broader ways. It also became a trip of self-discovery.

The sculpture placed at the University of Chicago where the world’s first nuclear reactor was, and the exhibit at the United States Air Force Museum both seemed to showcase the American narrative praising the achievement and development of nuclear power to this day. A statement from a Chinese man at Illinois Wesleyan pointed out the atrocities done by the Japanese imperial army to the Asian countries during WWII. Each with its own story and historical memory, how could we communicate with our eyes collectively toward the future and take steps toward peace? How should our generation pass on the history of Hiroshima?

At the Peace Conference at Illinois Wesleyan, I learned about the present state of those who need “peace” in the world due to conflicts, hate that goes back in history, income disparity, racial and sexual discrimination, etc., and of the works people are doing to better these situations. So what is “peace”? Is peace different for each individual? What are the commonalities?

These are all questions I don’t yet have clear answers for, but ones I was compelled to ask and bring home. I wish to seek answers for these questions as I gain knowledge and hopefully wisdom.

There were two things in particular I’ve noticed through our activities.

First was the several class visits we did at universities. There, we mainly spent time with questions and answers rather than a one-sided presentation. I noticed an active participation along with direct connections with the students that were very meaningful.

Second was the power of art. In my presentation I gave a brief introduction on the project, the “Grandchildren of Hiroshima.” Then there was Amano-san’s one-man drama, “Living with Father.” I realized again that art is one effective avenue that possesses an unique strength in telling the story of Hiroshima. Neither race nor nationality mattered when it came to the power that moves people and naturally leads their heart to empathize as human beings.

Above are the two points I’d like to learn from and utilize in the future. Our presentations were aimed toward university students and older this time, but I’d really like to reach a wider generation of people next time, and hopefully through many avenues including culture, history, testimonies, and art. I hope this would lead each one of us to consider nuclear issues as a humanitarian problem which we face today.

Each day was like opening up a new present. In two occasions I experienced a surprising yet a delightful reunion when a woman came up to me and told me she had known me as a baby. What I’ve realized through meeting many people and having many people take care of us is the importance of communicating, understanding, and connecting; to make a friend. I strongly felt there lies the foundation for peace.

Dan from the Brethren Volunteer Service and his wife, Wendy: Thank you for your overwhelming generosity. Through our nightly conversations, you gave me many new perspectives. Bagels, bacon, to the best coffee. You made my little American dream come true. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin our trip.

Josie from Illinois Wesleyan: Thank you for organizing the wonderful Peace Conference that led to so many irreplaceable connections and learning. I sensed a deep gratitude and importance of growing through learning. I loved talking with you about issues surrounding us as human beings and as women.

Tanya from Wilmington: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience and to ponder peace from various perspectives. I admire your quiet strength that continues to burn inside your gentleness. And thank you for all the food that were probably-the-best-ever-I’ve-had in-the-states.

Thank you also to the Snyders for helping me see the need to consider the present issues through our past history. Special thanks to the delicious homemade desserts and the extra bacon.

Alice from Bluffton: Reuniting with you after I don’t know how many years and spending your 89th birthday with you was amazing beyond words. Thank you for pouring love on me unchangingly since I was little and even now. Unsurprisingly, surrounding you was a community built on love and it felt as though I caught a glimpse of what peace needs to be founded on.

 

To my fellow PAX members: Thank you for every moment spent supporting each other with our quirky personalities and for all the laughter.

Lastly, I’d like to send my deepest thank you to the people at WFC who have always watched over me and for making me a part of this incredible opportunity.

Picture: I’m sorry the picture is out of focus. These are my 3 fun travel companions taking a walk and singing rather loudly into the woods!

 

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