Hiroshima Nagasaki Study Tour 2010 Report
My name is Sydney Archer and I am currently a second year student at the University of British Columbia. This year I had the honor of joining some students from American University, Ritsumeikan University and Asia Pacific University on a ten day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the time of the 65th year memorial ceremonies. Throughout the trip, the group of around forty students got to hear from professors, hibakusha, researchers, politicians, and other speakers as well as experience the tragedy of the bombings by participating in the ceremonies and visiting museums. It was an incredibly unique experience where students from such varied backgrounds could come together and learn about the history that has shaped the countries where they live in.
I was one of the two Canadian students that got to participate on this tour, and so it was a bit interesting finding out for myself where I fit in the mix of other students! Being half Japanese with Canadian citizenship, I didn’t really feel the same as the Japanese students or American students -- it was interesting how I was learning about what it meant to be Canadian ironically outside of Canada! During the trip, we were put into “peace families”, mixed groups of students where the locals served as guides to the foreigners around Japan. My peace family had an amazing combination of experiences and history: an American soldier who fought in Iraq, a Hiroshima local whose grandfather and great grandfather were in Hiroshima 65 years ago, a Ritsumeikan Student who was born in America, an Asia Pacific University student who went to school in China, and a peace advocate who walked across America in a nine month peace march. Despite the scope of our backgrounds, we shared an incredible desire to learn about the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how they have shaped history. It was quickly apparent that the ways in we had each individually learned about WWII left holes in a bigger picture that came together as we visited museums, attended lectures, and shared experiences with each other.
Group photo in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, with the A-bomb Dome in the background.In addition to learning all of these things on a mental level, I felt as though I was experiencing it on an emotional level. Though I still can’t imagine what it must have been like for the hibakusha after the bomb was dropped, travelling for the ten days with Koko (a hibakusha) and experiencing the lantern ceremony as well as many other annual events gave me a taste of the tragedy associated with the bombings. As our study tour connected the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings with issues of today like the American bases in Japan, nuclear nonproliferation, and peace between countries I realized how these two events fit into the picture of history that is being defined today.
Sydney Archer, asking questions about the radiation effects of different types of nuclear weapons, at Dr. Shoji Sawada's lecture.