Honoring Fellow Alumni: Interview with Caitlin Dimino – Kalika Kastein, Class XVI

“Living a life that is in integrity with my values,” and to “be honest in the way I show up” are phrases that have been ringing through my head over the last week since Caitlin Dimino spoke during our conversation together. I had personally wanted to talk to Caitlin for some time as I had been connected to her by the Rotary Peace Fellows alumni network at the start of my fellowship. As an educator, I had been intrigued by her background working in schools and communities in Ecuador, Panama, and the United States. Continue reading “Honoring Fellow Alumni: Interview with Caitlin Dimino – Kalika Kastein, Class XVI”


In Search of Safety – Natasha Venables, Class XVI

At first glance, Australia and Japan could be seen to have very different approaches to refugees and asylum seekers. However, upon closer analysis, there are more similarities than first meets the eye. I discovered this when I adapted a program I used to run in Australian Schools for the Australian Red Cross for a Japanese High school. Mostly, it is not that students from either of these countries don’t care, but many lack awareness or time to critically read other news stories from different countries rolling in daily.  I discovered students from both countries (Australia and Japan) lack the ability to relate with such circumstances as a result of living in such secure and safe environments, where the idea of needing to flee your home is so far from their everyday reality. Continue reading “In Search of Safety – Natasha Venables, Class XVI”

Volunteering – Dilton Ribiero, Class XVI

When I close my eyes, I can vividly picture my old elementary school. The school closed down few years ago, but it will never forget it. Some of my classmates from that time remain my friends to this day. My fond memories of my elementary school years coupled with the curiosity to see how a Japanese school is organized let me to quickly accept the invitation to volunteer for a day at the Mitaka 7th Elementary School. In Brazil, where I was born, Japanese schools are famous as a role model for discipline, high standard of achievement and responsibility. Continue reading “Volunteering – Dilton Ribiero, Class XVI”

Hiroshima & Nagasaki – Elisabeth Oliveira da Costa, Class XVI

Hiroshima was one of these places I always knew I was going to visit one day. In my mind,  Hiroshima had always been associated with two seemingly opposite “ideas”. The first one was, of course, about the horror of the atomic bomb. Being born in a French city that was hit hard by German bombardments during WWI and occupied by the Nazis during WWII I learned about the wars at an early age. The black and while photo of the devastation in Saint-Quentin, Picardie, in my history book bore some resemblance with Hiroshima, however I soon learned that it was pale in comparison. Despite this, when referring to the horror of Hiroshima, I still call it an “idea.” Yes, an idea, too absurd, too phantom to be real, to be called an “event”, even if History has proven us wrong. Continue reading “Hiroshima & Nagasaki – Elisabeth Oliveira da Costa, Class XVI”

Coffee and the culture hidden in your cup – Lorena Rodríguez, Class XVI

When it comes to talking about coffee and identity, I identify myself as a coffee lover from a coffee origin. I grew in a place where coffee was everpresent, coffee plantations were easily accessible, and coffee was as an excuse to gather with my family and friends, who came to our house every Sunday to drink coffee and chat. Coffee was part of my daily life. Continue reading “Coffee and the culture hidden in your cup – Lorena Rodríguez, Class XVI”

First day of the New Year – Jananka Ranaraja, Class XVI

On January first dawn in I went to Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple with my host counselor Kiyota Hiroyoshi-san.The temple is well known for its power of Yakuyoke (warding off evil), and is commonly called “Yakuyoke No Odaishi-sama” among the people of not only the Kanto area but nationwide. In Sri Lanka we also used to go to the temple for blessings on the first day of the New Year.  Continue reading “First day of the New Year – Jananka Ranaraja, Class XVI”

An Experience in a Sake Factory – Janaka Ranaraja, Class XVI

My host councilor Hiroyoshi Kiyota San organized this tour to a sake factory called “Wakura Shuzo” located in Chiba Prefecture. On a winters day in January, I was fortunate enough to have this experience with one of my fellows, Natasha. The factory was an old-fashioned one, meanwhile inside was cool, with little humidity. The present owner is a third generation owner, which is almost 350 years old. Upon entering we were given special dress and shoes to wear, then the owner kindly took us on a step by step tour of the factory. Beginning with meeting the special person in charge of the whole sake process, the “Sake Master.” Continue reading “An Experience in a Sake Factory – Janaka Ranaraja, Class XVI”