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Monday, May 28, 2007

Peace Boat Experience I

Please see this previous posting for the introduction of Peace Boat.

I participated in the Peace Boat 56th Global Voyage as a 'mizusaki-annnai-nin' or a guest educator, for nine days from Acapulco,Mexico, to Vancouver. This ship, called Topaz, carried about six hundred passengers, a smaller group than the usual nine hundred or so. There were two big age groups on the ship - the young ones from late teens to early twenties, and the mature ones in their late fifties and above. This is understandable as it must be hard for people in their thirties and forties, typically in their full-time working years, to participate in the three-month long world voyage. (Photo: Peace Boat at Acapulco Bay)

As a mother of two young children, it was the first time in years that I spent days without seeing small children. The youngest passengers on this cruise were junior high students who should be fourteen or fifteen years old. I was told that some cruises do have many children, so they provide family-oriented activities on the ship.

This ship never sleeps. The young ones stay up late and some go to bed at 4 in the morning, when some of the older ones are getting up. So morning events typically had mature audience, and the late-at-night events the younger. The prime time on the ship therefore was from around 4 PM to 9 PM, when both young ones and old ones were awake. I was wondering how people could manage their boredom while cruising for days between ports of call, but I knew I was mistaken as soon as I boarded Topaz.

From 6 a.m. to past mid-night, there were numerous concurrent events of all sorts, from morning exercises (Radio-Taiso), Spanish and English language classes, a variety of lectures, to sports activities and dance lessons,organized by Peace Boat and passengers themselves. The boundary between the staff and the passengers seemed thinner than I would have expected -sometimes hard to distinguish between them. Some passengers were really involved, like being broadcasters of the in-ship TV station, and reporters of the in-ship newspaper which is published in Japanese and English every day.
As a guest educator, I had to and wanted to make the most of my limited time on board for the benefit of passengers and staff. To share what my life was like on the ship, here is the schedule of one of the busier days when I had four of my events in a day. (Photo: my introductory presentation on May 13th)

8:30 Breakfast
10:00-12:00 Film and Discussion
12:00 Lunch
2:00 - 3:30 Presentation: Peace Activities in Vancouver
3:45 - 4:30 Q & A Session: Study Abroad and Homestay
4:30 - 5:30 Interview for the newspaper next day
5:30 - 6:30 Dinner with other guest educators and staff
7:00 - 8:30 Intercultural Communication Workshop
9:00 - 9:30 Meeting with Peace Boat staff
9:30 - Had drinks with Peace Boat staff at Izakaya 'Namihei'

A day on the Peace Boat seemed like three days. I wondered why I got so much done but still was able to get decent sleep at night. Yes of course, I had no kids to look after, no meals to cook, no laundry to do and no floor to sweep! What a privileged way of life! Here I must mention this is also because of the incredible dedication of the Peace Boat staff and volunteers. They cut down their meal time and sleep to organize all these events and to manage so many duties on the ship. There was even a staff entertainment show while I was on the ship. Could not believe their wealth of talents, from classical musicians,enka singers to manzai comedians, and that they had any time to practice for the show!

I know why Peace Boat is so successful now. It is the dedication of these young people and the passion that they have for promoting peace in the world. Above all, they seem to be having the best fun in the world in doing what they do, and I believe this is what attracts so many talented youths to this work.

(Photo: Meri and Yappiro, Peace Boat staff members who looked after me - thanks!)
To be continued...

With appreciation,


Friday, May 25, 2007

Back from Peace Boat

I got back from 9 amazing days on Peace Boat on May 18th. I thought I would drop a note just so there is more than one posting this month! At least I keep my event list updated, so please check it out. Events are listed from older to newer, to scroll down for upcoming events! My report in Japanese will be in the June Edition of Fraser Monthly. I will write an English one as soon as possible.

ピースボートから帰ってきました!5月1日以来何も書いていないのでとにかく生きているということだけでも書いておこうかと。イベントリストだけは最新のものにしてありますのでチェックしてください。古いものから書いていますので最新のイベントは下の方を見てください!ピースボートの日本語の報告は6月号の「月刊 ふれいざー」に載る予定です。英語のものもなるべく早く書きます。それでは!




Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Peace Boat 56th Global Voyage

On May 9th, 2007, I will be flying to Acapulco, Mexico to participate in the 56th Global Voyage of Peace Boat as a guest educator. (Photo from Peace Boat website)

I will be on board from May 10 to 18th, from Acapulco to Vancouver. During the whole week on the ship, I plan to give workshops and presentations in areas such as:

Intercultural Communication - I will facilitate participatory workshops that introduce how awareness of one's own values and assumptions could help promote understanding and develop effective communication skills among people with different backgrounds.

Activities for Peace in Vancouver - I will introduce the peace groups and initiatives in Vancouver which I have been involved with, such as the World Peace Forum 2006, and Vancouver Save Article 9, one of the first of groups outside of Japan that aim to preserve the 'renunciation of war' clause of the Japanese Constitution. I will also introduce my own centre for peace, Peace Philosophy Centre and its activities and goals.

Introduction to Vancouver, with a Focus on Multiculturalism - I will present the diversity of Canada, specifically Vancouver, as one of the most multicultural societies in the world, including the development of multiculturalism, and some of its current challenges. I will also introduce the places of natural beauty and cultural interest in Vancouver and beyond.

This 56th Global Voyage departed from Kobe, Japan on February 26th, and the previous ports of call before Acapulco have been Keelung(Taiwan), Da Nang(Vietnam),Singapore, Colombo(Sri Lanka),Mombasa (Kenya), Massawa(Eritrea), PortSaid (Egypt), Piraeus(Greece), Dubrovnik(Croatia), Venice(Italy),Casablanca (Morocco), Las Palmas(Canary Islands), Bridge Town (Barbados),La Guaira (Venezuela), Cristobal(Panama), and Acajutla(Panama). After Vancouver, the ship will stop at Seward (Alaska) before it goes back to Yokohama, then Kobe, in Japan.

The passengers will engage in different activities while they are in Vancouver (May 18 and 19) - such as learning about First Nations culture and history, visiting Grouse Mountain, and hiking in Lynn Canyon Park. Some will do homestay with local families to learn English and experience Canadian lifestyles.

There is also a possibility of an exchange opportunity between Peace Boat passengers, staff, and locals. I will post information as soon as confirmed. Peace Boat is planning to come back to Vancouver in many of their future voyages, so hopefully we will develop a regular program that brings together Peace Boat passengers and Vancouverites working for global peace. Your ideas and suggestions will be appreciated.

For more information about Peace Boat, one of Japan's most established and successful NGOs for peace, see their website.

For questions and ideas, please email

Love and peace,

Satoko Norimatsu