Thinking, Learning, and Acting Toward World Peace Peace Activity Circle “S2”
“S2” is a student circle at Hiroshima City University which carries out peace activities with the theme of “Think, learn, act: What can we do to bring peace to the world and smiles to all people?” In the 2022 school year, 26 students were involved across the circle’s two groups, “S2 HOME” and “TFT.” We had a conversation with them focused on the “S2 HOME” group’s activities.
“S2” stands for “Smile x Smile,” and the circle is divided into two groups. “S2 HOME” is focused on informing more people about the nuclear bomb sites in Hiroshima and war. “TFT” stands for “Table for Two,” and engages in such activities as improving dietary improvement in Japan, Europe, North America, and other developed countries, and collecting donations for developing countries.
Kondo Risa is a second-year student from Tokushima Prefecture and serves as the head of S2. She developed a strong interest in promoting peace after seeing images of the lives of children on TV from a young age. She has long felt that the environment in which she lives is far too different from that of the kids on TV, and wants to do anything she can to help change that.
S2 Manager Kondo Risa
Second-year student and S2 HOME assistant manager Higashi Riko is from Wakayama Prefecture, and was inspired to pursue peace by a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum when she was in elementary school.
She enrolled in Hiroshima City University’s Faculty of International Studies and then S2 in order to learn more about peace.
S2 HOME Assistant Manager Higashi Riko
Some of S2 HOME’s diverse activities include guiding students on school trips from other prefectures through the Peace Memorial Museum, exhibits at events promoting peace, field work, and many others. They put particular effort into guiding students on school trips, and do individual studies on the best way to communicate Hiroshima’s history and the path to peace.
According to Ms. Higashi, “I realized that a conversational guide style made a bigger impact on the kids. For example, rather than just giving a speech-like explanation when we visit the statue of a child affected by the nuclear bombs, I might ask ‘This is Sasaski Sadako who died of leukemia due to nuclear radiation. How old do you think she was at the time? She was a 6th grader, just like all of you.’”
Guiding students on school trips
According to group members, giving guided tours also deepens their own knowledge, meaning an increase in things they want to communicate. Ms. Kondo said, “These kids have a bit of knowledge due to things like peace education in schools, but there’s still a lot of things they don’t know. For example, they get really surprised when I tell them that some of the benches near the Atomic Bomb Dome have stones in them that were blown away by the nuclear explosion.” The goal is that by teaching the students things not found in textbooks, they begin to feel the realities of peace and war and gain a widened interest in them. “I’m happy that they come to visit the Peace Memorial Park, but I hope they don’t think that’s enough to know about the nuclear bomb site in Hiroshima, and that they give attention to the living, breathing traces of the nuclear bomb in the city.”
Field work conducted by circle members to further their studies
On August 6, 2022, after participating in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, the group conducted field work by walking down Peace Boulevard all the way to Hijiyama. One person who witnessed the blast said that the city viewed from the hill of Hijiyama looked like a sea of flames, and the group hoped to personally experience just how far of a distance that is and what the city looks like from atop the hill. While walking they used a map app to see the rate of building destruction and number of deaths, feeling the tragedy and folly of war with each step.
They also participated in Hiroshima City’s Peace Culture Event to give a report of their activities and host a workshop where guests can experience folding a paper crane with the same size of midicine paper as Sasaki Sadako used to make her 1,000 cranes. They were able to make the case for peace to a wide group of people, young and old, men and women alike.
Picture from the 2021 Peace Culture Event
In the other half of the circle, Mori Maiko, second-year student and assistant manager of TFT, spoke to us with conviction in her voice. “S2 HOME and TFT have different points of focus, S2 HOME’s being Hiroshima and TFT’s being food, but we’re both working toward the same peace. What’s important is that we see people who are in need or hurting, think about what we can do to help, and take action, even if it’s only a small first step.”
TFT Assistant Manager Mori Maiko
In closing, Ms. Higashi told us “The most surprising thing I’ve seen in the course of our activities was the Korean victims’ monument. It made me realize that people from other countries were victims as well. My parents and friends from outside the prefecture occasionally come to visit, and when I learn new things the first thing I want to do is tell the most important people in my life.” Ms. Kondo summarized her feelings by saying “Some of the circle’s graduates have entered society and are working in educational institutions or NGOs that carry out peace activities. We receive a lot of encouragement from them, and as we enter our third year and get closer to graduation, I want to work toward passing the torch to the next generation of leaders.”
Going into the future, they’re enthusiastic about increasing the reach of guided tours for students and spreading the message of peace, especially to those near and dear to them. A study trip to Nagasaki is planned for March of 2023 where they hope to use the things they have learned and seen in Hiroshima to see the legacy of war and peace in Nagasaki with their own eyes.
Some people question the point of bringing up events from the past when learning about peace. However, knowing the past is essential to creating a present and future peace. Continuing to learn, think, and communicate the past will surely lead us toward true peace.
Peace Activity Circle S2
For inquiries, contact: Hiroshima City University
082-830-1500 (university’s main number)
Instagram [S2 HOME] @s2_kokunai [TFT] @s2_tft
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