I really do not know where to start because this trip from start to finish was simply amazing. On arrival to Japan we had decided to spend a couple of days acclimatising and seeing the sights on our own. Tokyo and Kyoto were both fabulous places to visit and we saw more than what we had planned due to being quite lost the majority of the time. It is true that the Japanese people are extremely helpful however, not everyone speaks English so we got by with many hand gestures and sounds. My fear about food was confirmed several times throughout the trip, generally unexpected but I managed to try new things and sometimes even enjoy them.
On arrival to Hiroshima we were shown to our student accommodation which was more than comfortable and the journey began from here. Being a part of the International Network of Universities was far bigger than I had anticipated and the various functions we attended, speakers we were privileged to listen too, and many dignitaries we met has made a permanent impact of my life. Meeting with the other INU groups proved valuable and allowed me to understand the importance of networking and working together as a team when a natural disaster occurs.
Attending the 70 year anniversary peace ceremony for the atomic bomb in Hiroshima was an emotional day. Listening to the pleas of people for worldwide peace gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude and tranquility. This was followed by the lantern festival in the evening where thousands gathered to float their hand painted lanterns with messages down the river in honour of those who have lost their lives and suffered due to the a-bomb.
Working closely with the other nursing students from Sweden, Japan, Spain, Indonesia, South Africa & USA was an absolute privilege and strong friendships were formed very quickly. Communication techniques were pushed to the limit and there were days our brains hurt from having to concentrate so hard on either listening, talking or explaining. Although it was tricky this experience has allowed me to further expand my communication skills and understanding for cultural differences and believe me, all the concentration was well worth the effort because we had just as many giggles about the times we didn’t understand each other.
This experience has been incredible and something I will never forget. It has ignited a passion for disaster nursing and allowed me to form solid networks in many countries around the world. I hope you enjoy the photos. Thank you to the Hiroshima University for funding my trip and Flinders University for supporting this workshop. A special thank you to Annette Stenberg, Pauline Hill & Daniel Mather, without you this trip would not have happened and you made the whole process easy with efficient emails and information. Finally, my travel companions Karen Hammad & Heath Milne we started out not knowing much about each other and the friendships have grown abnormally quickly, my stomach still hurts from all the laughter and tears.