The World Alliance of YMCAs successfully carried out its first pilot programme in partnership with Peace Boat, onboard the Spring 2015 East Asia voyage. In a special curriculum coordinated by the Interfaith Cooperation Forum called the gSchool of Peace,h 60 participants mainly in their 20’s and 30’s and representing YMCAs in nine countries joined the ship from Kobe (Japan) to Hakata (Japan) and, took part in special workshops and presentations designed to foster new global citizens and leaders.
Joining participants onboard was the General Secretary of the World Alliance, Rev. Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, and the president of the World Alliance, Peter Posner.
The School of Peace program examined themes of identity, communication, and justice in fostering peace in closed, intensive workshops. In addition, the YMCA participants gave presentations to Japanese participants about the YMCA, their perspectives as emerging leaders in their communities, and the role of interfaith dialog in promoting peace. A number of other events included discussion sessions and intercultural exchanges. The YMCA participants were able to learn about historical perspectives and current issues relating to history, security, and peace in East Asia.
A conversation with Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) Fumiko Hashizume left a strong impression on participants, especially in encouraging how forgiveness and healing can overcome feelings of hate and revenge in reaching for reconciliation and peace.
The participants from YMCA joined the voyage for 9 days, departing from Kobe, Japan and visiting Ishigaki Island, Japan; Keelung, Taiwan; Naha, Japan before disembarking inHakata, Japan. The next project in the partnership between the World Alliance of YMCAs and Peace Boat will be onboard the first segment of Peace Boat’s 88th Voyage. In a unique program called gChange Agents Global Gathering,h 160 youth leaders from around the world will participate in an intensive training program onboard, as well as on-land activities in the Philippines.