Kyoko Amano, professor and chair of the Department of English, plans to commemorate the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings for the 70th anniversary of World War II bombings.
She will create a peace exhibit and take a group of UIndy students to Japan over Spring Break. The Japan Foundation made all this possible by awarding Amano a $24,000 grant to help students learn more about the bombings.
“I think part of it [the learning experience] is the importance of peace,” she said. “When there is a war, there have to be winners and losers. Sometimes people have to lose to accomplish peace instead of retaliating. I just want people to understand that [survivors] in Hiroshima and Nagasaki feel that instead of hating as a result of being victimized, they come together. That’s how we can get to a peaceful environment.”
In the peace exhibit, Amano will display posters from the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. She also will invite Robert Jacobs from the Hiroshima Peace Institute to deliver a speech. Amano hopes to arrange a Skype interview with some of the survivors of the atomic bombings, so students can ask questions about their experiences. Students going on the trip to Japan will likely be giving presentations of their final projects at the peace exhibit.
International relations graduate student from Gaza, Fidaa Abuasi, will go on the Japan trip. In December 2008, Abuasi was in school when some of the first bombs were dropped during the Gaza War, killing more than 1,000 civilians, according to BBC News. Throughout the 23 days of the war, many of Abuasi’s friends and family were killed or left homeless. Some still live out of tents or share a home with multiple other families.
“When the bombing started, we all ran out of school, and it was like the end of the world,” Abuasi said. “We didn’t know where to go, so we were running different directions. There were people being killed everywhere. … Once you drop a bomb, the entire neighborhood disappears.”
Spring Break will be the first time Abuasi will go to Japan. She is eager to meet with the atomic bomb survivors.
“I feel like I can relate to [the atomic bomb survivors], since I survived the war and I survived the bombs,” she said. “I think we share the same experience, and it’s nice to hear the Japanese perspective of World War II.”
For students in English 420 and 580, the trip to Japan will cost around $1,000, depending on the currency exchange rate. This covers the air fare, a Japan rail pass, museum and temple entrance fees, hotel rooms and some meals. During the trip students will hear the stories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors and of deportations from the United States to Japan.
They also will visit the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and stay at a monastery in Kyoto and a nursing home for atomic bomb survivors. Amano hopes that students will gain a different viewpoint about World War II.
“Pictures of the atomic bomb are usually [taken from above] to show the mushroom cloud and that everything is dead,” Amano said. “After all the trams and trains have stopped, everything is flattened by the atomic bomb. When you go to Japan to a peace museum, you’ll see that there are people who survived and there are people walking on that street. The pictures that the Japanese remember are not [taken from above], but are pictures taken from the ground level. I want people to understand that there are always both sides of the story and multiple perspectives. I want people to embrace that multiplicity because I think that is the key to accomplish world peace.”
Amano plans to open the peace exhibit the week before finals on the second floor of Esch Hall. The exhibit will be free and open to the public.