ICU卒業生の声~16期生 ナターシャさん

Rotary Peace Fellow – Why I believe the Fellowship is creating more peace in the world
My first interaction with Rotary was in the development field where I was working on a remote Island that took 3 types of transport to get to , ending with a tiny fishing boat and there I saw the reach of Rotary Projects. Now I tell people I am a Rotary Peace Fellow, I see even more the way they have touched people’s lives through exchange programs, grants and a community to be part of.
Since then I have worked on many assignments in Disaster Management around the world turning me into a Global Citizen. An identity which is important to me, As I have struggled with my identity as a white African since we lost out family farm in Zimbabwe in 2003 when we were warmly welcomed in Australia as forced migrants, it was here through my work with asylum seeker refugees with Red Cross I found that I share this identity crises and lack of secure homeland with over 65.8 million other displaced people in the world who were not as lucky as my family in being warmly accepted by another country. Which of course lead me to take up research in looking at de-stigmatize and humanizing migration as the truth is it can be way to build more peace and understanding in our world if done right. My special interest is in Returnees, as an important part of that migration cycle and my thesis looking at how individuals, community and government can assist people to re-integrate back home as a durable solution to our global migration crises. The Rotary program through exchange and cultural exchange really grasps this concept and is my belief why the fellowship is contributing to building more peace in our world.
14 months ago I was successful to ICU in Tokyo, as one of the 6 peace centres, arriving in Japan I was full of innocent hope and optimism fast becoming a little disillusioned as I tried to get our 10 fellows to collaborate on a joint project for the Peace Centre and coordinate the newsletter we are asked to write – we were all so different coming from 8 different countries, aged from 25-50 speaking 10 different languages. Having different ideas of what peace means.
As this is the first question they ask us, was to write an essay on what PEACE mean to you? Which is surprisingly hard to answer.
So in the first few months of the program I realized, a unique part of this fellowship was not only the lessons in the classroom and books but in becoming like a global family to each other in a foreign country, creating a network with bonds that will go far into the future, beyond borders and create opportunities and projects far greater than envisioned. As I currently strategise with a Comumbian lady on a project for South to Suth relations.
over a year into the program I am a true advocate of the power of the peace fellowship. For a number of reasons, firstly it creates this global family – in our year we have military men, UN professionals, grassroots HR activists and so on, people many of us would never had chance to get to know in our normal day to day life let alone becoming each others support system, where we actively debate and discuss peace and the ways we can impact the world, with all our diverse backgrounds, experiences and worldviews we have real life lessons in conflict and mediation just within our Peace fellow group. As it really takes collaboration, learning from other parts of the world and networks to build peace and Rotary provides that platform.
Added to that is navigating a new cultural landscape as the fellowship sends fellows outside of their known world. Then there is the local Rotary Family who as individuals we have been deeply impacted by their kindness, warmth– helping us to navigate our new life as students and foreigners. Also reaching our families, as my parents visited Japan and were too exposed to a new culture and blown away by the hospitality of not only Japan but Rotary as an orgnisation. The sharing of our different cultures and the understanding it creates is hard to measure and reflect back quantifiably. In experiencing it myself and knowing the reality that one of the first steps that enables conflict to take place is allowing dehumanization of people, and just through the process of exposure to others it becomes harder to dehumanize a group of people or culture once you have befriended, shared experiences or learnt about their struggles and community even had to rely on their hospitality. As before going to Japan I knew very little about them except from the 2nd WW from our history books. Now I live among the Japanese and have been amazed at the similarities in my up brining as well as being humbled as I am illiterate there, unable to fully read and have been touched by what a caring and considerate people they are – as complete strangers not only notice you looking lost but in giving you directions they take the time to walk you to your destination.
This Rotary network also enabled me to reach out while in Africa and speak as rotary clubs with people there I would never have interacted with before in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. Broadening not only their view but mine – enabling me to meet people who my social ties would never have linked me to before. Creating more understanding and knowledge sharing than before.
One of my favourite quotes rings true here –
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – said by a man once thought to be a terrorist but now most known as a freedom fighter and one of the most inspiring presidents – Nelson Mandela,
Having just returned from my Applied Field Experience, another gem of this program, where you get to go and practically apply what you have learnt in the last year, in the form of an internship while also doing your field work. I went to my home country where we have over 90% literacy rate, the highest in Africa, due to the investment in education largely made in the 1980/1990s– although we have been through some tough times with a history of misunderstanding, polarization and violence. Having been away for 15 years and returning, I see the power of that investment in education pulling us through now– as the people can see through the politics of hate, the blame and really desire nothing more than to make an honest living and hence a large reason why we have not gone into full scale conflict. Education enables that – sadly it is not a given as many continue to hold onto their bitterness and hurt from the past but knowledge of the truth of both sides of a story is available though critical thinking which is mainly made possible through education (formally or informally administered).
I truly believe peace is built individual to individual and this program is one big step towards that. Like all things there is room for improvement but ultimately the Peace Fellowship has made a huge impact in my life and it is making a huge difference in a number of individuals and their families lives who impact their community that impact their countries and so the cycle begins, going against the many negative and destructive cycles around us and that’s the hope we need. That is the hope I believe in.
So, thank you to all Rotarians who make this Peace Fellowship possible. And a personal huge thank you to my Host Counselor Yuko Oguma and my Host club, Matsudo Chuo for taking me under their wing in this Rotary journey and supporting me here in Japan.
ナターシャ ベナブルズ(オーストラリア)
(要約・翻訳 川井大介さん)