Two high school students from Obama school in Hawaii visit Hiroshima

by Toshiko Bajo, Staff Writer

Two students from Hawaii’s Punahou School, U.S. President Barack Obama’s alma mater, visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on August 3 and listened to the testimony of an A-bomb survivor (hibakusha).

Kayla Murata, 16, and Kevin Chung, 17, are visiting Hiroshima as part of the school’s Hiroshima Peace Scholarship program. Both will be high school seniors when the new academic year starts in late August.

Yoshinori Obayashi, 80, shared his experience of the atomic bombing to the students at Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. Mr. Obayashi was exposed to the bombing at Koi-higashi, about 2.3 kilometers from the hypocenter. The students from Hawaii listened closely to his account, videotaping it and taking notes.

“I now feel even more strongly about doing something for nuclear abolition,” said Mr. Chung. “I hope to take action by working with other schools.”

Hiromi Peterson, 60, a Japanese language teacher at Punahou School, helped to establish an endowment for the program to bring students to Japan in the hope that they will “understand the reality of the atomic bombing and convey their knowledge to others.” Ms. Peterson is a second generation A-bomb survivor originally from Minami Ward, Hiroshima. She said the school plans to continue bringing two students to Hiroshima every year. This year they will stay in Japan until August 10, attending the Peace Memorial Ceremony to be held on August 6.

(Originally published on August 4, 2009)