July 30, 2012
The Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki opened on June 2. The acceptance of the local community has been growing, and there are now around 20 local visitors each day. Including the many large-scale events, the Center has welcomed over 1,000 people in the six weeks since it opened. (See the map and details on the Japanese homepage here.)
Each day at the Center starts at about 8:30, when volunteers gather for their morning meeting and then travel to the day’s activities.
Inside the Center are five computers; a table space for relaxing and chatting; a radio booth which will be used for producing podcasts; as well as conference rooms and a stage. The goal is to create a multi-purpose space to host events, work, and provide a social community space for local residents to enjoy.
In the windows on the first floor, photos taken during Peace Boat global voyages are displayed, as well as posters of local events. The highlight of this month is the 89th Ishinomaki Kawabiraki Matsuri. This year’s festival promises to be a wonderful two days filled with lots of people and fun (homepage here: in Japanese).
The Center’s most popular feature, aside from the regular events, is the internet space. Many children visit as a place to do homework, or just to have fun. Friendly Peace Boat staff are always around to answer any questions about how to use the facilities.
The international nature of the Peace Boat volunteers, from many countries and speaking many languages, is a unique characteristic. Since 2011, Peace Boat has welcomed over 800 international volunteers from 52 countries. Many of them have volunteered again this year, or made the trip to visit the new Center. While their presence may be natural for Peace Boat, to the children of Ishinomaki it is a really exciting development. For many of the kids, this may be their first chance to practice the English that they’ve studied so diligently in school.
Over the last six weeks, Peace Boat has organised over 10 events here at the new Center, both large and small. There’s a lot of work involved, from organizing to renting the venue. But thanks to this effort, men and women of all ages gather here every day for a wide variety of events including computer lessons, childcare information sessions for mothers, traditional arts performances, and concerts by professional musicians.
In addition to providing a place for people to gather, another important role of the Center is to distribute important information to the Ishinomaki community. Peace Boat staff and volunteer journalists are kept busy dashing off to interviews and writing articles for the “Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun.”
During the day, elderly residents often come to chat, and many visitors from outside the prefecture come to ask about the best spots in Ishinomaki, or the progress made since the disaster. After school and on holidays, there are many visits from high school students and younger children alike. An entire class of elementary school students also stopped by as part of their integrated studies course.
The busy hours pass quickly and before we know it, the volunteer leaders and staff return for the evening meeting, where they report on the day’s activities and check on the status for tomorrow. Then, the day is finally over!
It’s been over 6 weeks since the Center opened, and Peace Boat has many projects planned for the future. The Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki aims to become a place that the local community will want to use, and new project ideas, events and volunteers are always welcome!
Finally, some announcements from the Center.
(1) Volunteers for the Kawabiraki Matsuri
The 89th Kawabiraki Matsuri will be held on 7/31-8/1. We’re looking for volunteers willing to help out at the festival in addition to the usual 1 week volunteer period. All those who want to help us make a fantastic festival are welcome.
Please come participate.
- See here for details.
(2) Advertising in the “Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun”
Since October of last year, the Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun has been providing valuable information about daily life to the residents of Ishinomaki and surrounding areas (distribution: 5000 copies). The paper continues to be published every other week. Going forward, Peace Boat aims to continue supporting the post-disaster redevelopment, including the local shops which have begun to reopen. Please contact us for inquiries about posting advertisements (free).
-Peace Boat Volunteer Center Ishinomaki, “Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun” section