American and Japanese high school students pay respects at A-bomb monuments

by Sakiko Masuda, Staff Writer

Students from Hiroshima Municipal Funairi High School, located in downtown Hiroshima, took part in a peace education event on July 11 with nine second- and third-year students from Eastview High School in the U.S. state of Minnesota. The American students are visiting Hiroshima on a school trip. They toured A-bomb monuments with the Japanese students, including the memorial dedicated to the students of the former Hiroshima Municipal First Girls’ High School, the forerunner of Funairi High School, who perished in the atomic bombing. Through this event, the American and Japanese students renewed their desire to work for peace.

Forty-one first-year students of the school’s International Communication Course showed the American students around Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. They visited the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and the Children’s Peace Monument, explaining in English how Sadako Sasaki, the Japanese girl who inspired the monument, died of leukemia ten years after she was exposed to the atomic bombing. They offered flowers to the memorial dedicated to students from the girls’ high school, remembering those who died while engaged in dismantling buildings to create a fire lane.

Before visiting these monuments, they listened to the A-bomb account of Miyako Yano, 81, a resident of Nishi Ward, Hiroshima. She was a second-year student at the high school at the time of the bombing and happened to be at home in Ujina (now, Minami Ward) instead of with her schoolmates at the work site.

Ashley Terry, 17, a third-year student at Eastview High School, said that she felt a deeper understanding of the atomic bombing after hearing the stories told by the A-bomb survivor and the students. Madoka Kawamura, 15, a first-year student at Funairi High School, said, “As a native of Hiroshima, it’s my mission to continue learning about the atomic bombing so I can convey this information to people from overseas.”

Students from Eastview High School visit Japan every other year on a school trip. This is the second time that students from this school have met students from Funairi High School, following the first exchange two years ago. The exchange was realized when Funairi High School invited the American school to join in their peace education efforts.

(Originally published on July 16, 2012)