As I have started on the process of becoming a Rotary Peace Fellow in the summer of 2019, I have started to engage with Rotary through writing a few blogs. This is my first one, which went LIVE on #Rotary and #PCDNetwork and so I can now share it. Please please please feel free to share to as many people as possible; spread the word!
In the summer of 2019 I will join the class of XVIII as a Rotary Peace Fellow (RPF) at International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo, Japan. Here are my top ten reasons for applying to ICU:
- Cultural Immersion:
ICU is home to the only Peace Centre in East Asia. As a student at ICU, I can draw on peace-building traditions from Asia, whilst becoming a highly “responsible global citizen” (ICU RPF). I will explore a culture that contrasts my own, making connections and building friendships that transcend language and cultural barriers. During August, I will meet local Rotarians and experience language and culture training with other new fellows.
- Field Trip to Hiroshima:
In August 1945 Japan lost thousands of civilians in the deliberate nuclear bomb attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The aftermath of the nuclear bombs has affected generations. As a student at ICU, I will visit Hiroshima, exploring the city’s distressing past and future commitments to peace; listening to the testimonies of survivors and their families. In reflecting on her experience of the Hiroshima field trip, current ICU RPF Lisa says: “It is a stark reminder of what humanity is capable.” (Source)
- Japanese University Life:
When I start at ICU I am excited to explore the range of clubs available to me, in a uniquely bilingual environment. These clubs include sports, music, arts, and traditional Japanese culture clubs like Ikebana (the art of flower arrangement) and Kyudo (Japanese archery). They welcome international students from around the world. What a great way to make new friends and learn new things!
- Close-Knit Community:
At ICU I will experience an academic program where professors blend both Western and Japanese education styles. With small class sizes and an engaging academic environment, many students get to know their professors well and almost all graduate students will cross paths during their studies.
- Interdisciplinary and Liberal Arts Approach:
Studying at ICU will encourage me to look beyond cultural and social assumptions. ICU encourage an interdisciplinary approach to studying Peace and Conflict and support students to attend and host conferences encouraging conversations around peace. The liberal arts curriculum will help me to become a truly global citizen, equipped with tools to support the building of a sustainable society.
- The Campus:
Current Fellow Syann, says of the ICU campus: “An oasis in Tokyo…” On visiting the campus in March 2019, I was struck by its beauty and historical significance. Cherry Blossom trees in full-bloom line the main entrance. In 1949, the charter of ICU was signed and General Douglas MacArthur arranged for the sale of 620,000 square metres of Nakajima Aircraft Facility to ICU. This facility is where a large portion of classes take place today, serving as a “reminder of war and as an example of ICU’s commitment to peace building through education.” (Paul Hastings, Japan ICU Foundation, found in Rethinking Peace edited by Alexander Laban Hinton, Giorgio Shani, and Jeremiah Alberg).
Tokyo is home to over 40 million people, making it the largest city on earth. As a fellow at ICU I get the chance to immerse myself in this bustling metropolis. I cannot wait to explore the old streets of Asakusa, visiting the infamous Shinto shrine here; enjoy the bright lights of Shibuya and make my way across the world’s busiest crossing; and go for a run in Yoyogi park or the Imperial Palace Gardens.
- Global ICU:
ICU is a member of the United Nation Academic Impact initiative, aligning the United Nations with higher education institutions from around the world, connecting their students. As an ICU student, I’ll join the ‘Global ICU’ learning environment, committing to uphold the principles of the Universal declaration of Human Rights. ICU also gives me the exciting chance to study at the United Nations University, located in central Tokyo.
- Contributions to Peace Literature:
At ICU, I am excited to continue writing about peace. I am going to be able to do this by contributing to the termly Rotary Peace Fellows newsletter, which gives Fellows the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about life at ICU and in Japan. Furthermore, the recently formed Ad Pacem student association group release a bi-annual journal and regular blogs looking at their experiences of peace-building, as well as tackling some difficult topics about conflict.
- Social Support System:
When I arrive in Tokyo, I will be met by my local Rotarian ‘buddy’ who will help me with practicalities like my apartment search, and will provide me with emotional support during my transition of becoming a graduate student in Japan. In fact, this Social Support System has already started six months before I join ICU, as current Fellows have already reached out to offer their support and guidance. There is a culture of support in the community surrounding ICU too, as current fellow Seme discovered on joining the Tokyo West Union Church: “I instantly felt the warmth from foreigners who have embraced Japan as home.” (Source)
So as my journey to becoming a fully-fledged Rotary Peace Fellow continues, I count my lucky stars that it will be at ICU.