On October 27 and 28, UNIS had the privilege to welcome four Peace Messengers and delegates from Yokohama City, Japan. The Peace Messengers were shown around by Middle School students Chisato Takemura, Alexandra Nakamitsu, Amane Miura, and Aki Gaythwaite on Thursday afternoon and Friday.
Our special guests met with school leadership, sit-in on classes, and had the opportunity to attend Friday's Middle School Dance.
This year the Peace Messengers included Ms. Haruka Kato, sixth grade student at Ekoda Elementary School; Ms. Kokoro Kiyooka, sixth grade student at Kogaya Elementary School; Ms. Rizumu Abe, ninth grade student at Toyoda Junior High School; and Ms. Miru Yamao, ninth grade student at Sasage Junior High School. Afterwards our guests discussed their impressions of UNIS.
"UNIS is very diverse place and everyone is friendly to each other and accepting of differences. Secondly, when I visited UNIS, I saw younger students being taught about UN and the meaning of peace," said Haruka Kato. "I thought that getting to know about peace very deeply at a such an early age was amazing. I believe this type of education is very important."
The student visitors were selected based on their entrees in a peace essay contest out of 50,000 students. Also they raised $95,000 for UNICEF which will be delivered as part of a meeting with the organization.
In addition to touring UNIS, the students traveled to New York City to participate in a number of activities at UN Headquarters. This is an annual event and in certain years the group is received by the Secretary-General. We hosted the last Yokohama delegation in November 2015.
"It was an honor to host the four Yokohama peace messengers for the past two days. Having them attend our classes and be shown around by Middle School students is an experience I am sure they will never forget," said Masahiro Tanaka, Japanese Teacher. "Opportunities like this are what make UNIS a special school and we hope our students carry their message of peace forward."
In 1987, Yokohama won official recognition by the United Nations as "Peace Messenger City," due to the city's deep history of involvement in a range of international peace and exchange efforts. As one of Yokohama's peace related activities, students are chosen each year through a speech contest and are designated as "Yokohama Children Peace Messengers."