On Friday I returned to Adelaide from Hiroshima, Japan after a truly memorable student seminar on gender, peace and security. As an undergraduate student studying Law and International Studies I was fortunate to be selected as one of four Flinders students in the Student Seminar focussing on gender issues. I am very grateful for Flinders University for this opportunity and would strongly recommend the student seminar to fellow Flinders students.
During our time in Hiroshima we were fortunate to befriend and interact with exceptionally intelligent and well meaning students from across the International Network of Universities (‘INU’). INU connects students from Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Argentina, Spain, Italy, United States, South Africa, Sweden and Germany. The fact that INU embraces cultures spreading over just about every continent, and the intensive nature of the seminar, allowed for a fantastic sharing of varied ideas and the forming of very close connections.
For our first day with the INU program we attended a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima with speeches from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Of course, this was a very somber occasion that was coupled during the evening with the lantern festival which allowed us to write a message of peace on a lantern and have it float alongside others down the river. Here is a photo of me placing the lantern into the river.
Placing a lantern in the river is a act of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the blast and a message to the future to strive for peace. During our seminar we also had a visit to the Hiroshima atomic bomb museum as well as hearing a speech from a Japanese woman who witnessed the atomic bomb but was saved from it’s wrath. Here is a photo of our group in front of the ‘A-bomb dome’, one of the few structures that remained following the A-bomb being detonated 500m above ground.
The seminar allowed us to partake in several seminar’s relating to gender, peace and security being taught from professor’s from across the INU universities. These seminars allowed us to understand the role females play in post conflict situations, the varied roles females play in Muslim societies as well as the need for women to be adequately represented in decision making, amongst other things. As our countries all have varied cultural roles for females, having such a wide ranging student network was exceptionally informative and interesting to understand the role of females world wide.
Finally, the students were placed into country groups to debate a UN resolution on gender equality, being asked to debate the resolution and put forward amendments that would assist your adopted country’s interest. This experience was very interesting and allowed for negotiations and created a better understanding of international relations and the art of diplomacy, as well as the differing cultural and national norms and interests.
This seminar allowed me to better understand the consequences of the atomic bomb, the global desire for peace, gender issues in a global sense and a more nuanced understanding of international relations. However, the thing that I found most beneficial from the seminar were the connections I made with other students. The cultural knowledge exchange between Australians and Indonesians, Americans and Germans, Swedish and South African, were all exceptionally interesting and beyond the scope of the peace and security seminar topic. It was a fantastic seminar, and I hope some of the students from the seminar will come visit Australia!