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Nagasaki weXplore: Reflecting on the Nuclear Debate

Image by Chelle Marshall

I would describe this weXplore as part family road trip and part school museum visit, as we spent our time traveling by bus, ferry, and foot to and from museums, energy parks and power plants. We went to 3 different cities and many small towns, often stopping at either 7-11, Family Mart, or Lawson’s for lunch in order to spend more time engaging with experts, tour guides, and information booklets.

On our day in Nagasaki, we explored the soul of the city by choosing our own itinerary. One group ended up in a museum for tropical diseases, and the other “…went so many places I don’t know where to start,” I went to a museum dedicated to the medical effects of the A-Bomb in Nagasaki, where I discovered how visible the effects of radiation can be. I assumed that any damage that happened was on a smaller, maybe cellular scale, but the museum gave visuals of healthy and affected organs that were very striking. I also learned about how the bomb had destroyed the hospital in Nagasaki and killed many of the doctors, making it hard for citizens to receive treatment afterwards. The one thing I didn’t see content on was the effects of radiation on the brain of victims. Since radiation has the power to break down stomach lining, I wonder if it would have an effect on the structure or composition of the brain. I also wonder if alpha and beta particles could have a long term effect on the brain as well. Overall, the museum brought a lot of clarity to past topics and introduced me to new ideas and concepts as well.

For Valentine’s Day, the group got together and played a game called ‘Superlatives’ over chocolate bars that had names that curiously overlapped with personalities.

Image by Chelle Marshall

We spent an evening debating the benefits of geothermal energy and the ethics of informed consent, which ended in a dramatic “pen drop.”

On the last night, we arrived at the hotel at 6:30 and spent the rest of the evening roaming neon- and LED-lit streets, watching people with a more developed sense of fashion than ourselves. Personally, I think the people involved, students, advisors, and host city specialists alike, made this weXplore what it was.

Every change in schedule and early morning was met with smiles and laughs. Despite being tired, people dove deep into the topic of renewable energy and engaged with speakers despite the language barrier. Team spirit also played an important role, even if a couple people got “lost” on a golf course. This trip will be remembered through the jokes, crazy pictures, and songs that it created. If there is still any doubt about whether or not it was the best thing ever, just remember, we had a karaoke bus.

Image by Chelle Marshall

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