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Monday, May 28, 2007

Peace Boat Experience I

Please see this previous posting for the introduction of Peace Boat.

I participated in the Peace Boat 56th Global Voyage as a 'mizusaki-annnai-nin' or a guest educator, for nine days from Acapulco,Mexico, to Vancouver. This ship, called Topaz, carried about six hundred passengers, a smaller group than the usual nine hundred or so. There were two big age groups on the ship - the young ones from late teens to early twenties, and the mature ones in their late fifties and above. This is understandable as it must be hard for people in their thirties and forties, typically in their full-time working years, to participate in the three-month long world voyage. (Photo: Peace Boat at Acapulco Bay)

As a mother of two young children, it was the first time in years that I spent days without seeing small children. The youngest passengers on this cruise were junior high students who should be fourteen or fifteen years old. I was told that some cruises do have many children, so they provide family-oriented activities on the ship.

This ship never sleeps. The young ones stay up late and some go to bed at 4 in the morning, when some of the older ones are getting up. So morning events typically had mature audience, and the late-at-night events the younger. The prime time on the ship therefore was from around 4 PM to 9 PM, when both young ones and old ones were awake. I was wondering how people could manage their boredom while cruising for days between ports of call, but I knew I was mistaken as soon as I boarded Topaz.

From 6 a.m. to past mid-night, there were numerous concurrent events of all sorts, from morning exercises (Radio-Taiso), Spanish and English language classes, a variety of lectures, to sports activities and dance lessons,organized by Peace Boat and passengers themselves. The boundary between the staff and the passengers seemed thinner than I would have expected -sometimes hard to distinguish between them. Some passengers were really involved, like being broadcasters of the in-ship TV station, and reporters of the in-ship newspaper which is published in Japanese and English every day.
As a guest educator, I had to and wanted to make the most of my limited time on board for the benefit of passengers and staff. To share what my life was like on the ship, here is the schedule of one of the busier days when I had four of my events in a day. (Photo: my introductory presentation on May 13th)

8:30 Breakfast
10:00-12:00 Film and Discussion
12:00 Lunch
2:00 - 3:30 Presentation: Peace Activities in Vancouver
3:45 - 4:30 Q & A Session: Study Abroad and Homestay
4:30 - 5:30 Interview for the newspaper next day
5:30 - 6:30 Dinner with other guest educators and staff
7:00 - 8:30 Intercultural Communication Workshop
9:00 - 9:30 Meeting with Peace Boat staff
9:30 - Had drinks with Peace Boat staff at Izakaya 'Namihei'

A day on the Peace Boat seemed like three days. I wondered why I got so much done but still was able to get decent sleep at night. Yes of course, I had no kids to look after, no meals to cook, no laundry to do and no floor to sweep! What a privileged way of life! Here I must mention this is also because of the incredible dedication of the Peace Boat staff and volunteers. They cut down their meal time and sleep to organize all these events and to manage so many duties on the ship. There was even a staff entertainment show while I was on the ship. Could not believe their wealth of talents, from classical musicians,enka singers to manzai comedians, and that they had any time to practice for the show!

I know why Peace Boat is so successful now. It is the dedication of these young people and the passion that they have for promoting peace in the world. Above all, they seem to be having the best fun in the world in doing what they do, and I believe this is what attracts so many talented youths to this work.

(Photo: Meri and Yappiro, Peace Boat staff members who looked after me - thanks!)
To be continued...

With appreciation,


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