The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons makes for a perfect segue to lauding a team of BFS Upper School students and faculty. This summer, Upper School Head Sidney Bridges, Upper School Technology Integrator Jean Kim, and three Upper School students made a two-week trip to visit Japan and attend an international forum in Hiroshima.
Preparations for their unique and timely journey began much sooner than that. In February, 2016, BFS Director of Service Learning & Civic Engagement Natania Kremer met with a delegation of Japanese educators representing the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education. This team was led by Namji Steinemann, associate director of the East-West Center’s Education Program and director of the AsiaPacificEd Program, which is based in Honolulu, Hawaii. The organization helps K-12 schools in the US enhance their Asia Pacific-related education and Asian American history curricula. The visiting educators from Japan were on a mission to learn about and see first-hand the best schools in the US and other nations, with the end goal of helping to launch a new school in Hiroshima, the Super Global Secondary School, scheduled to open in 2018.
The group invited Natania and three BFS students, Amanda Becker ’18, Joy Freund ’18 and Sean Wong ’19, to a youth leadership forum in Hawaii during summer of 2016 entitled P4Y, or Partnership for Youth. The BFS delegation joined almost 100 other students and teachers from around the world in discussing community revitalization and sustainability. BFS was the only Friends school to participate.
The BFS students resumed their conversations with the other participants in the spring of 2017, focusing especially on how they might have a real impact on the future. Our students created a student-led news outlet that emphasized the need to more fully integrate current events into the Upper School curriculum. Their goal was to better inform the student population about issues of sustainability and civic engagement. This project, which they dubbed P4Y360: Bringing the World into BFS, published short announcements about events around the world in the Upper School’s Daily News.
The summer 2017 trip to Japan was “Part 2” of the previous summer’s Hawaii youth forum. The International Student Innovation Forum was held in Tokyo. Our students presented projects and participated in workshops covering many global issues, including renewable energy, aging populations, and education for a fast changing world.
While in the country they also visited Setoda Beach and Onomichi for a homestay and sightseeing. Sidney and student Amanda Becker visited Tokyo Friends School while students Sean Wong and Joy Freund visited the Meiji Jingu shrine and the Harajuku and Shinjuku neighborhoods.
During a three day visit to Hiroshima, Prof. Kim Jongsung from Hiroshima University facilitated a peace education workshop centered around the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Students read different perspectives, visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and met a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor). The workshop culminated in a project in which student groups designed an exhibit for the Peace Memorial Museum.
At the Hiroshima forum, students presented the projects they implemented in their communities over the past year. Joy, Sean and Amanda discussed their work in the Upper School’s Current Events Student-Led Activity (SLA). Additionally, all participating students presented a joint declaration for peace that they had collaboratively written and edited. More than 300 people attended the forum , including educators, government officials, and business leaders.