In 1983 a group of Japanese university students who sought to actively examine the role of Japan during the Asian-Pacific war (1937/1941-1945), set up the nongovernmental organisation Peace Boat. As a creative response to government censorship, they chartered a ship to visit neighbouring countries to engage in conversations with contemporary witnesses and initiate people-to-people exchange.
With up to now more than 85 peace voyages around the world Peace Boat seeks to contribute to positive social and political change. Peace Boat organises a comprehensive peace education and dialogue programme on board and in the ports visited in cooperation with civil society organisations and groups in Japan and worldwide. The ship as a neutral and mobile space is particularly prone to enable dialogue processes across borders. Manifold projects and advocacy campaigns complement the offer and create awareness among passengers and encourage them to take action.
Since 2005 Berghof Foundation organises the study trip for German students in close cooperation with the Institute for Political Science of Tübingen University and the Japanese nongovernmental organisation Peace Boat.
The project seeks to promote a critical and open culture of dialogue among students. The specific working methods and approaches of civil society actors to (violent) conflicts in the heart and on the edge of Europe complement the otherwise rather theoretical perspective of the students by practical insights. Conversely, the civil society actors have the opportunity to interact with young academics and learn from them about the state of research on the respective key topics. The exchange with Japanese and international passengers on board allows for an intercultural and action-oriented learning experience for all parties involved. Furthermore, the students' self-reflection about their political responsibilities is stimulated by dealing with particularly German experiences and by encountering other cultures.
This excursion offer in cooperation between Berghof Foundation, Tübingen University and Peace Boat is unique in Germany and for numerous students a decisive factor for choosing Tübingen as their place of study. The students value the possibility to jointly set the excursion's agenda and to actively participate in its preparation and organisation within the framework of the preparatory seminar. They broaden and deepen their intercultural knowledge and their dialogue skills already during the preparation period. Moreover, the students consider the direct exchange with people and the visits of places of remembrance and commemoration and former scenes of conflict as particularly motivating to subsequently also delve deeper into the subjects addressed from an academic perspective.
Institute for Political Science of Tübingen University
The study trip is supported by the Universitätsbund Tübingen e.V. of Tübingen University, friends of Berghof Peace Education/ Institute for Peace Education e.V. and private donations. In addition, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports the project with PROMOS stipends for all participants. The students themselves conduct fundraising activities such as donation campaigns and the sale of cakes and they bear parts of the costs themselves.
How is the current situation for refugees in Greece? What can civil society do to combat the mafia? How does dealing with the past work on the Balkans? These are only some of the questions that a group of peace studies students from Tübingen take with them on their trip to the Mediterranean this week. They want to hear answers directly from local people. For ten days they will cruise the Mediterranean on board the Japanese Peace Boat and will meet people in the ports such as refugee aid workers in Athens, war widows in Dubrovnik, anti-mafia activists in Naples, and peace educators in Barcelona. On board the students will present their experiences in dealing with the past in Germany and open the space for dialogues with Japanese, Iranian and other international passengers. The study trip was prepared in a seminar and will be accompanied by Berghof Foundation in cooperation with the University of Tübingen. After their return the students will report on these impressive encounters and experiences. The reports will be published here.
"When we went on board 10 days ago we were friendly to each other; but we are leaving the ship as friends", describes one of the participants the encounter between students of the institute for political science of the University of Tübingen and volunteers of the Teheran Peace Museum, Iran on board of the Peace Boat. By the cruiser "Peace Boat", of the eponymous Japanese NGO, both groups jointly traveled from Athens over Venice, Dubrovnik, Kotor and Palermo to Marseille.
As part of the peace educational and cultural programme aboard and in the harbours, the young adults discussed with representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organisations the Greek crisis, the situation of refugees or means of civil resistance against the mafia. They visited former war zones and extended their theoretical knowledge on the war in Ex-Yugoslavia by talking to time witnesses and representatives of civil society organisations, government institutions and the ICTY. The presentation on dealing with the past in Germany by Tübingen students was met with great interest by the Iranian and Japanese fellow passengers.
The study trip is organised every two years by staff members of the programme Peace Education & Global Learning of Berghof Foundation in cooperation with the Institute for Political Science of Tübingen University and Peace Boat.
"The students are really motivated, proactive and so cheerful", says Jasna Bastic from the Japanese NGO Peace Boat about her meeting with the Tübingen Peace Boat delegation on 29th of June 2015 at Georg Zudel house of the Berghof Foundation. Together with Jasna Bastic and the two course leaders, Anne Romund und Dagmar Nolden, the participants finalised the programme on board and in the ports of call. They asked questions about their fellow passengers and the life on board. Jasna Bastic underlined the relevance of the students' presentation on dealing with past in Germany for the Japanese passengers. Filled with fresh motivation the students rehearsed their presentation as a whole for the first time.
On 22nd April 2015 the preparatory seminar for the Peace Boat excursion, conducted by Anne Romund and Dagmar Nolden from Berghof Foundation, began. Students of peace studies and international relations, political science and japanology from Tübingen University participate in the course. For one term they prepare the programme on board and in the harbors. The ten-day study-trip starts on 28. September 2015 in Piraeus (Greece). The route leads along the northern Mediterranean coast, over Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), and Palermo (Sicily) to Marseilles (France). The students work on subjects such as the German-Greek relations during the crisis, the dealing with and prosecution of war crimes in former Yugoslavia or the treatment of and dealing with refugees in the Mediterranean. A central topic for the workshops and presentations on board is Germany's way to deal with its conflictual past 70 years after the end of World War II.