I have just returned from my INU Summer School on Global Citizenship and Peace and I have to say, I was blown away by the experience! So many new experiences condensed down into less than two weeks has to change you for the better!
Academically, one of the most valuable elements of the program was having the opportunity to discuss challenging academic issues with people who came from such a diverse range of countries and cultures. This is something that is not a part of everyday travel experiences when simply visiting a new country. Additionally, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony gave us all an opportunity to reflect on the deeply troubling global issues which remain unresolved in the international political system.
The final day of the program involved a role play in which groups of us took on the role of a variety of carefully selected countries to debate a “mock amendment” to a protocol on displacement and refugees. This required hasty research to determine the various stances of each country to refugee policy. As part of the United States of America team, my group certainly had our work cut out for us. However, at the end I came out of the experience with a new appreciation of the complexities, conflicting influences and strategies involved in international policy formation. My negotiation, team work, research and presentation skills were all challenged, tested and developed throughout this experience and it was a relief to have a chance to relax with an evening of karaoke afterward!
The most surprising part of the program was how much fun was involved! Working with a small group of like-minded students gave us the opportunity to form strong bonds, many of which I am confident will evolve into life-long friendships and others which are likely to prove useful for future career opportunities or collaborations. The cultural activities were also great fun, giving us an honest insight into the real world of Japanese life rather than a contrived view that might be staged for tourists.
The INU Summer School on Global Citizenship and Peace was a rare opportunity to become completely immersed in a cultural, academic and social experience that really did bring out the best of us students and promoted an environment in which great friendships were forged!