On August 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2004, the small island of Shodoshima in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan held its first annual World Peace Camp. Over fifty students and twenty volunteer staff participated, representing twelve countries and five continents. Volunteers consisted of local Kagawa English teachers (from the US, England, Argentina, and Canada), Miyazaki International College students and staff, and local people who had lived and worked abroad. The camp was conducted almost entirely in English and was an overwhelming success, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Kagawa chapters of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the YWCA.
The Shodoshima World Peace Camp featured three different programs of study, whose specific curriculums were designed by the members of the WPC executive committee with essential input from the WPC counselors.
Elementary school-aged students participated in a program called “Discovering the World,” which centered on learning songs, facts, dances, games, and traditions of five foreign countries from people who had lived there for years. On the last day of the camp, their efforts culminated in short presentations about their specific country.
Middle schoolers (junior high) learned from a curriculum inspired by the popular “100 person village” email. Through creative activities they simulated global conditions within their own groups (distribution of wealth, availability of resources, etc.). These activities, combined with captivating guest lecturers, served as a catalyst for the students’ final presentation, which focused on language diversity within the 100 person village.
The third group, comprised of high school-aged students, was truly international. While the other two groups consisted of Japanese students from Kagawa prefecture, the high school group had young men and women from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, and Japan and was taught by counselors from the United States and Indonesia. They participated in a program entitled “Our World, Our Selves,” which helped students to make connections between their own lives, the issues within their home countries, and global issues. Their experience culminated in a mock United Nations discussion, where students represented different nations and initiated deals and compromises to improve each country’s situation.
The three groups also came together to participate in some larger activities. The camp’s official festivities were kicked off by an opening night barbeque. This barbeque featured multi-cultural entertainment, with songs from Senegal and Mongolia and the performance of a traditional dance of Kazakhstan.
All the camp’s participants joined in a sing-a-long of English, Japanese, and Indonesian songs. The camp’s members also took part in a hunger lunch the following day. During the hunger lunch, campers were randomly placed at different tables representing the worldwide distribution of food. As you can imagine, many of our younger participants were quite unhappy about their portions. The activity served as an eye-opening experience for many of them.
In all, the first Shodoshima World Peace Camp was very successful thanks to the hard work of many talented individuals and the open-minded participation of fifty-four wonderful students. As for next year, the WPC executive committee is already planning ways to make the camp even better! It is our hope that this camp has started a tradition in Shodoshima of bringing together people from all over the world to educate students about their role in the greater global community.