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Quote by a student.
Quote by a student.

Everyone That Comes to Hiroshima Is a Witness

First Impressions from Hiroshima!

Our term in Japan is off to a great start, and students wasted no time in getting to know the cosmopolitan city they now call home. Hiroshima is a city that is renowned for its past, but the million plus residents that reside here are more focused on building a bright and sustainable future for generations to come (and of course cheering on their beloved Toyo Carp once baseball season rolls around). 
This newsletter provides a glimpse into some of the activities we’ve been up to since our arrival, including a thought provoking evening with six local hibakusha (explosion-affected people). We hope you enjoy this look at our life in the south of Japan, and we look forward to sharing a look at how our project-based modules are going in a couple of weeks. 
-The Changemaker Cohort Team

Hibakusha Event: From That Day Forward

Disparate Experiences; Shared Humanity

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but faced with courage, need not be lived again.” -Maya Angelou

Students from Hiroshima International School joined TGS students to listen to the stories of 6 survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  The Hibakusha, (which translates as “explosion affected people”), guest speakers related their horrific survival stories and their message to strive for world peace and the abolishment of nuclear weapons.  

Our students had the opportunity to ask questions and ponder their contribution to world peace.

“I didn’t tell my story for 50 years, because relatives would blame me for telling people about it,” -Ogura-san (a Hibakusha)

“We were surprised that the hibakusha were discriminated against for being survivors —the idea that people can be so cruel and prejudices against those who have already suffered so much.” -Student in attendance

The following map displays where each of the Hibakusha were when the A-Bomb was detonated:

Student Reflections

“Hiroshima isn’t a place that wants to show how it got stronger afterthe devastating atomic bomb. It isn’t a place of complete sadness nor revengefulness. It’s a place to reflect, mourn and commemorate the bombing, all its victims and effects. To make people and leaders remember, what the consequences of their actions are, and hopefully make better decisions for the present and the future.”  -Paula M.

Following the hibakusha event, many students from both THINK Global School and Hiroshima International School were asked to reflect on what they’d just seen and heard. You can find a powerpoint containing many of these thoughts at the link below.

View the Reflections

Hibakusha Wordcloud

In relation to the hibakusha assembly, students from THINK Global School and Hiroshima International School were asked to share the words that came to their minds regarding the hibakusha and the bombing of Hiroshima by U.S Forces on August 6th, 1945. We compiled their answers and placed them into the following wordcloud, with words that occurred at a higher frequency being assigned greater prominence in the scheme. You can find the source material, including a breakdown of words by student and additional quotes, here.  



Click to Enlarge the Wordcloud

TGS Is Folding 1,000 Paper Cranes!

by Ava Ploeckelman

These will be given to the Children’s Monument at the Peace Park – a monument to the children who died as a result of the atomic bomb and its after-effects.

As you fold your first or your tenth or 1,000th paper crane, keep in mind the words from our Hibakusha guest speaker, Tamiko Kawano-san:

“The idea of the 1,000 cranes, or how I see it, is that they always look up,  their heads always held high like they are flying and they can take away everything, the pain, the disease, or the cries,”

At the TGS Hibakusha event, Tamiko Kawano-san told us the story of her friend, Sadako Sasaki, who was only 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped close to her home in Hiroshima that fateful day of August 6, 1945. 10 years later she was diagnosed with leukemia – a direct result of the radiation. During her time in the hospital, Sadako’s friend told her of the legend of the folding 1,000 paper cranes: whoever folded 1,000 paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadly, although she managed  to fold 1,000 paper cranes, she succumbed to the disease.

But her legacy lives on. Now people all over the world fold 1,000 paper cranes and send them to the Children’s Monument, where they will be put on display until they are recycled into stationery.  

The first time you fold a paper crane, it is very process oriented, which is to say that the end product might look more like a discarded piece of paper. After that, you get a better sense for how sharply to fold which lines, and how to get the paper to act in ways it does not want to. That sense gets better every time you make one. The first time you decide to fold without the video is the most important. Unless you have tried origami before, you will probably forget a step.

We have 200 paper cranes so far: let’s keep going! And let’s connects ourselves to an important historic event and Peace In Our Time!

by Nick Martino and Changemaker Students
by Nick Martino and Changemaker Students

Reflecting on the A-Bomb at the Peace Park

From Nick:

A short inscription on the park’s memorial arch reads, in part, “We shall not repeat the evil.” Which evil — the bombing or the entire conflict of ww2 itself — and who is to blame are left unsaid.

3 years ago marked the first time that a sitting American president visited Hiroshima. I’d like to share some of his words”

“Seventy-[three] years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.

In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die. Men, women, children, no different than us. Shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death.

Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

Someday, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade.”

– Barack Obama, 2015

Photo by Justin Smith-Hoopes
Photo by Justin Smith-Hoopes

Birds chirping above, singing a song they remember. They remember the pain, the sorrow, with desperation flowing. But peace is never far, so this bell, it tolls, and the birds sing for peace.

Justin Smith-Hoopes
Photo by Mak
Photo by Mak

The city right before the incident is shown. The fountain resembles the clock at 8:15 AM, the time of the bombing, and the water itself is a tribute to victims who died of dehydration. As you come in, the silence will strike you as you are literally surrounded by the town of Hiroshima - before the incident!


See more images and reflections from our visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park

TGS Embarks on a Scavenger Hunt

What’s the best way to get familiar with a new city? Why, a scavenger hunt, of course! During their orientation, students took to the streets and back alleys of Hiroshima to participate in the TGS Wonder Photo Challenge, an activity that had them snapping the following fun shots all around town.


Photo by Zaki Ahmed
Photo by Zaki Ahmed

Kendo/Aikido Lessons

Photos by Zaki Ahmed and Adam Sturman

This term students have been participating in martial arts to help stay fit, choosing between kendo, a modern Japanese style which descended from swordsmanship, and aikido, a comprehensive system of throwing, joint-locking, striking and pinning techniques, coupled with training in traditional Japanese weapons such as the sword, staff and knife. Thanks to Zaki and Adam for snapping the following shots from our students’ introductory classes.

Cultural Lessons: Kimono Dress Up and Tea Ceremony

by Corinna Olson

Para la clase de Español AP, estamos estudiando las tradiciones japonesas, para aprender sobre esto tuvimos una presentación de Kimonos. Fue una experiencia magnifica, en la que aprendimos de la cultura y nos divertimos.

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Ready to embark on the educational journey of a lifetime?

A passion for travel. A strong academic record. And the desire to improve the world as you experience it. If this sounds like you, you just might be our ideal candidate! Start your application with a five-minute inquiry form - you never know where you might end up.

It all starts here.

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