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2020 Oleander Study Tours of Hiroshima


The Oleander Initiative is seeking participants for one week study tours of Hiroshima Japan throughout 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing.  Ideal participants are active in the fields of peacebuilding, nuclear weapons abolition, reconciliation work or conflict resolution, but other interested individuals are also welcome to apply.

Please contact us HERE if you are interested in attending this program.

Background: Months after the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, a small patch of oleander flowers bloomed out of the irradiated rubble. Since then, oleanders have symbolized both the dangers of nuclear war and the hope of a more peaceful future. In a similar spirit, the Oleander Initiative leverages the “power of place” of Hiroshima – the first city to be devastated by nuclear weapons – to empower peacebuilders from around the world.

The Oleander Initiative removes peacebuilders from their usual contexts and immerses them in Hiroshima’s culture of peace. Oleander participants leave Hiroshima inspired, re-energized and profoundly motivated to formulate new approaches to their work.

Throughout this experience, participants are encouraged to reflect upon the “lessons of Hiroshima” – pacifism, resilience, forgiveness, reconciliation, moving forward, and many more – and then work collaboratively to apply these lessons within their own local contexts.

Since the inaugural program in 2016, dozens of educators, politicians, NGO workers, and civil society leaders from 14 countries have developed deep and actionable insight on their own practices via the Oleander Initiative.

Program Description: Throughout 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing, the Oleander Initiative is implementing custom designed one week programs that highlight elements of Hiroshima peace culture most salient to participants’ peacebuilding practices. Activities may include:

Possible Program Activities (to be co-designed with participants):

  • Live testimonials from hibakusha atomic bomb survivors
  • Instruction from top academics on peace culture, historical memory, reconciliation and the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons
  • Visits to Peace Memorial Museum, Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Dome and other sites of conscience
  • Visit to Radiation Effects Research Hospital – a medical institution studying the impact of radiation on hibakusha for over 70 years
  • Site visits to Hiroshima schools– the only system in the world where peace education is mandatory in all levels of education
  • Visits to hibaku- jomoku or A-bombed trees, a symbol of resilience and rebirth in Hiroshima
  • Networking opportunities with Hiroshima peacebuilding academics, NGOs, and schools
  • Trip to Konu (pop 2500), the surrounding countryside and Buddhist temples
  • Day trip to Miyajima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Cultural Activities including Kagura performance, tea ceremony, and calligraphy
  • A tour of Hiroshima’s culinary specialties based on the participants’ food preferences

Please click HERE to view previous Oleander Initiative Programs.

Organizer: The Oleander Initiative is organized by UME, a Cambridge, USA based, 501c 3 non-profit organization that builds bridges through education. Since its inception in 1997, UME has implemented 49 programs for over 2500 educators and community leaders. These programs have been co-organized with agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. UME programs have been endorsed by former Sec of State John Kerry and praised by senior US State Department officials “to be among the best planned, managed and most effective public diplomacy efforts overseen by the Department.”

Endorsements: Endorsements include: Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, Senator Edward Markey, Congressman James McGovern, and Henry Rosovsky, Former Acting President of Harvard University. Click HERE to view endorsements.

Media Coverage: The Oleander Initiative has been featured in USA Today, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbunand broadcast on PBS in the United States and to over 120 countries on NHK World. Click HERE to view the 7 min news segment about the Oleander Initiative.

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