The last day of our course at Hiroshima University was probably also the most exiting one. The role play – a simulation of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in order to promote gender, peace and security – lasted the whole day. The delegates of the different groups were determined to present their countries standpoints, issues and visions with flaming speeches, and the different proposed amendments for a new resolution were debated passionately.
The day really provided an interesting insight in the world of international politics, including the rather disillusioning fact that national political and economic interests will always weigh more than the actual issue at hand (in our case gender equality, peace and security) within the UN structures.
After finishing the role play, we could finally get rid of our imposed national identities and reunite with the rest of the group in order to spend a beautiful last evening at the farewell party with all students and teachers. The night was concluded with a Karaoke session at a typical Japanese bar. The latter, like many other social activities, was arranged by our four classmates from Hiroshima University, who took extremely well – and very patiently – care of us during the whole week and brought us their culture and customs closer.
We are very grateful to Malmö University and Hiroshima University under the International Network of Universities as well as to all teachers and the facilitating staff, for the opportunity to participate in this interesting course and to meet so many great people from all around the world.
The theme of the day was the case of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The lectures were mainly concerned with human rights in and between these nations. Several interesting student papers were presented during the day with different takes on ASEAN. We also had time to freely discuss and ask questions to our two teachers Dr. Anthony Langlois, and Professor Steven Rothmann as well as to Dr. John Scherpereel, the chair of the International Network of University’s (INU’s) Academic Planning Committee, about anything related to academic careers and work life in general, which was very rewarding for us.
The evening was spent yet another time preparing for the role play and the hotel lobby was filled with different country groups trying to negotiate their way towards a successful outcome for their respective country’s interests the following way. Many secret alliances were plotted this night, but everybody knew that these alliances and promises could be broken at any point of the role play.
Today’s theme was “Strategic decision-making”. We had a lecture about game theory, basically it is about optimizing the success of your goals and minimizing the mistakes. Our professor introduced us to different games to see if we were able to calculate and choose the best outcome in some situations. The winners were awarded Japanese candy. Japanese candy is definitely different from western-style candy. We have at least never seen – or tasted – seaweed candy before…
At 11.02 we had a minute of silence in memorial of the victims of the second atomic bombing in Nagasaki. Hiroshima was the first city to be attacked and perhaps that is why Hiroshima often is mentioned more often when speaking of the atomic bombings, but the devastation of Nagasaki was just as severe as in Hiroshima.
In the afternoon we started to engage in fierce preparations for the upcoming role-play until late at night in the lobby of our hotel. While our Master’s students group was divided into two sub groups representing the USA and Russia, the undergraduate seminar students became representatives of nine other countries such as DRC, Sweden or Cuba.
The fun part about getting started with the preparations was definitely to sketch out first allies among the different groups of the undergraduate students, plot plans and to twist arguments and facts until they fitted our “national interests”. The latter was a task that was not always easy considering the fact that we were supposed to represent two extremely powerful countries with very distinct and, let’s say, sometimes questionable agendas.
This day started with an hour discussion around the past days. All events and the visit to the museum and the memorial ceremony had affected everyone deeply and stirred up a lot of feelings. The keynote lecture about “Peace and Security – What We Can Do For Tomorrow” by Mr. Tsuneo Nishida, the Director of the Institute of Peace Science at HU, gave complementary input and another opportunity for us to ask questions and reflect on the things we had learned and experienced the last few days.
During the rest of the day the lectures and a second mock-conference session were focusing on the second core theme of the summer school “Responsibility and Justice in Global Politics”. We also tried a Japanese game called Kendama, very difficult game to play. The Japanese students made it look very easy. Even though the rest of us got rather mixed results, we had a lot of fun playing it.
The second day of our cultural programme in Hiroshima. It was composed of an early visit in the peace memorial museum, a fun introductory session to the Japanese language, held by students of Hiroshima University, and lectures of Ms. Keiko Ogura and and Ms. Chieko Seki, two survivors of the a-bombing in Hiroshima in 1945.
The programme was less exhausting than the one of the day of the memorial ceremony itself, which was good as we all needed time and space to process the impressions we had gotten the day before. That said – the day was by no means less emotional. The information provided by the excellent and moving exhibition in the museum, combined with the unique chance to listen to the stories of the two women who have been living in Hiroshima in 1945, gave us a lot more things to think about. Their reflections on how to avoid such a man-made catastrophe in the future, as well as what each and every one of us can do in order to create a more peaceful world provided the basis for an interesting and also controversial discussion the next day about the role of citizens and political stakeholders in the process of achieving and maintaining peace.
We left the hotel 05.50 in the morning to participate in the peace memorial of the victims of the atomic bombing that took place in Hiroshima exactly 70 years ago. The ceremony was really beautiful and emotional with approximately 40 000 visitors, so it was pretty crowded in the memorial park. Afterwards we had our first, and only, day off to do what we wanted. So we all decided on going to Miyajima Island just outside of Hiroshima. We took a ferry to the island and the ride was so beautiful, the landscape here is amazing- the mountains surround the entire city! On the Island there are actually tame deers which was amazing, they walked right up to us and wanted to be petted.
There was so much to see on the Island and we got to see two different temples- both of them were breathtaking. In the evening we went to a latern ceremony, also very beautiful. Japan has so much history to offer for both natives and tourists. It truly is amazing to experience this.
The only kind of challenging thing was the weather, it is very hot and humid during the summer months in Japan. Oh, we are also struggling with ordering food sometimes- it can truly be quite an adventure when you do not speak Japanese and the staff does not speak English. It is not always quite clear what you are ordering, but so far we have managed quite well. Ellinor accidently ordered super-spicy Korean noodles, she will never make that mistake again.
After our introductory lecture on global citizenship and peace on Tuesday we continued right away on Wednesday with the first seminar day. In the morning we started with an interactive session on the topic Global Governance and International Policy, which left much room for own reflections, the development of visions and group work. In the afternoon three of our group, including Ellinor, presented their papers in a first mock-conference session. These sessions provided a space in which peer reviews were presented to the authors of the different papers, in order to discuss strengths, possibilities for improvements and contents of the papers.
In the evening we met the approximately 150 students from the other courses – the Undergraduate Student Seminar on Global Citizenship and Peace, the Summer School for Environmental Studies, and the INU Nursing Workshop.
During the welcome reception the INU staff treated us with warm welcoming words, delicious Japanese food and sake. A great opportunity to get to know people from our group better and to meet all the others.
Even though we, Ellinor and Nora, did not find the time to post while we were in Japan, we would still like to share our experiences and impressions of those intense and amazing days we spent in Hiroshima University.
Tuesday, August 4th
Our first day at the INU Master’s Summer School for Global Citizenship and Peace. Before we had our first lecture we had a campus tour of Hiroshima University. It is the third largest campus in Hiroshima and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Afterwards the first lecture started with the topic of Global Citizenship. We are 13 students from different countries that are participating in the course. A variety of different academic backgrounds are represented which really spurs interesting discussions. During dinner in the evening we had a “eat with chopstick”-workshop for those of us who couldn’t do it.