A US-Japan Youth Summit for Peace
September 16 – 19, 2016
by Siddharth Divakaruni
In today’s conflict-ridden world, it is necessary for younger generations to learn from history to create a more harmonious future. Japanese high school students from Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki traveled to Massachusetts and New York to discuss the Pacific War atomic bombings with their American counterparts. These conversations took place in venues like the United Nations Headquarters, Harvard University, and the Boston Public Library. The students listened to survivor (被爆者, hibakusha) stories and participated in Q&A sessions with them.
Afterwards, however, it was up to the participants to answer pressing question—how would they work towards preventing a similar tragedy in the future? These discussions cleared a pathway for the creation of a “memory community.” This is a way to preserve the memories of a historical event—recognizing the trauma it caused and then continuing from there as to how to ensure that it won’t happen again.
To do this, the students utilized digital mapping technology (hence the summit’s name, “Technologies of Peace”) to access the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Archives. These are essentially interactive online databases where one can access survivor stories. The archives provide videos of survivors, information about key affected places in the cities, etc.—all on a virtual 3-D map. This technology is an innovative, efficient way for students to learn about past atrocities while opening a dialogue for potential future solutions.
Finally, after countless discussions and panels, the students were able to formally present their ideas as a group in an activity called “Our Action Plan.”
This international exchange has certainly made all of the students more informed, wiser, and understanding future world leaders.