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Photo of students from Moravian College and Japan having lunch with the text "New Perspectives: Peace & Justice Studies"

Gaining New Perspectives on Nuclear Weapons #JUSFC

June 20, 2018

Throughout my journey in Japan I had many different types of learning experiences that addressed the people, culture and history. The particular experience that I feel gave me the most insight was meeting with other students from universities in Japan.

At our first stop that we made in Osaka, we stayed at the Osaka Ohtani University and spent our first couple of days accompanied by students. We were given a warm welcome from three students and two faculty members from the University. When we got back to the University we were able to put our things down, but soon after we went to meet the rest of the students that would be accompanying us throughout our stay.

Moravian and Japanese students gather for a meal and a picture.jpg

We had our first real meal in Japan which we ate while getting to know our Japanese peers. There was an arrangement of different sandwiches and fried fish. Everything I ate was delicious, but the one food that really surprised me was the egg salad sandwiches, which I later found out are very popular in Japan.

There were many students that spoke English relatively well which was amazing to me. As for the students that did not speak English, hand motions and facial expressions went a long way. We would do things like point to the food and give a thumbs up just to explain that the food they had prepared for us was delicious.

While struggling to use my chopsticks, we spoke about many of our favorite things to do, including our appreciation of music, sports, and other forms of entertainment. Although their culture is very different, there also were many similarities, especially when we talked about baseball and rugby. The following days we went on tours and were able to see and experience many different things with the students from Osaka. While this was all very exciting and eye opening, the most insightful thing for me was the discussions that we had regarding nuclear weapons.

table is set for first meal in Japan, fruit, fish, and egg salad.jpg

With both the students from Osaka Ohtani University and the students from the University of Nagasaki we had discussions about and shared our opinions on war, nuclear weapons, and how to work toward denuclearization. This was the most insightful part of the trip to me because it opened my eyes to new perspectives. These new ways of thinking had never come across my mind before. For example, when the dropping of the nuclear bombs during World War II was discussed, the overall opinion of the Japanese students was that their government had messed up, they were planning to surrender but took too long to do so.

Moravian and Japanese students attend a lecture on nuclear war and denuclearization.jpg

From most of what was said it seems to me like they feel guilty for what their ancestors were doing before the bombs were dropped. However, students from both sides had always agreed throughout the trip that nuclear weapons are, in all cases, not the answer. The amount of devastation that the two bombs caused have lasted generations and no one should be subject to such terrible events. Overall, discussions with the Japanese students from culture to opinions on war have opened my eyes tremendously to other, worldly perspectives.

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