My Films

Friday, September 29, 2006

Becoming Obsessed with Documenting and Media

Well, perhaps I have always been obsessed with media. Why else would I got to a really expensive film school?
It just gets clearer and clearer to me how important media and documenting is. I have always said that if I do nothing else in life at least I will document the peace movement.

Here's a quote I saw on on Peace Journalism

Peace Journalism consciously adopts an agenda for peace believing it to be the only genuine alternative to an--unacknowledged or otherwise--agenda for war. It maps the pre-violence conflict, identifying many parties and more causes, thereby opening up unexpected paths towards dialogue and peace making. Peace journalism humanizes all sides of conflict and is prepared to document, both deceit and suffering as well as peace initiative from all parties.

I also would really like to have a dialgoue with you that are reading my blog. I'd like to hear your thoughts/opinions because I believe that at the very basis peace begins with communication. Let's have a discussion!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Graduate Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution

As you can tell from my blog below that I am currently in graduate school. I received a two-year scholarship from the Rotary Foundation to obtain a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity to really get down and dirty to study what I have been so passionate about for the past three years.
Anyways, I hope to share what I'm learning in my upcoming blogs.

Here's a photo of the beautiful campus in the cherry blossom season:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rotary World Peace Fellowship

My statement at a Rotary Luncheon last March:

I am honored to be the recipient of the World Peace Fellowship and I am excited to be joining the 5th class of fellows at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan this fall. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you for giving me this wonderful life changing opportunity.

Rotary’s other scholarships programs, the Ambassadorial and Student Exchange programs were created in order to promote greater understanding and foster dialogue between different cultures. I believe that Rotary’s newest scholarship program, the World Peace Fellowship, takes this a step farther. It is building leadership resources designed to resolve future conflicts by training fellows in the latest techniques of mediation and conflict resolution by giving them a greater comprehension of peace and cooperation in the world. And in today’s climate, I believe that programs like this are need more than ever. Collectively, I think we are beginning to recognize the important role that mediators and peacemakers play at all levels of conflict, from our local communities to international relations.

The Rotary World Peace Fellowship is a two years master’s program in international peace and conflict resolution. And each year approximately 70 scholars are chosen from the around the world to attend of one of the eight leading universities chosen as Rotary centers. I have been selected to study at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. ICU was started after World War II by American and Japanese missionaries, who acknowledged that new bridges were needed to be built between the two nations in post-war Japan. And for someone who is both of Japanese and Irish-American ethnicity, it seems like the perfect place for me to receive my education from. At ICU, I will be able to take classes in both English and Japanese. And I really look forward to learning not only from my professors but from my fellow scholars as well. They will be coming from all across the globe and will be bringing with them a diverse background of experiences in fields of government, business, and education. I’m sure that they will aid expanding my perspective on these issues.

My interest in peace and conflict resolution has been largely influenced by my international upbringing. From an early age, my father, who was a foreign correspondent journalist, instilled me in the importance of global awareness and role that media plays in shaping it. I grew up traveling through out Asia, and outside of living in Japan and the US, I have lived in China, the Philippines, and the UK as well. It is because of these experiences that I have a great appreciation of cultural diversity and at the same time recognize how interconnected and interdependent we all are. An understanding that I believe is key to facilitating peace in the world.

Here in Los Angeles, I work in the film industry on social issue and human rights documentaries. Most recently I have been worked as an assistant editor on a feature documentary that examines the current situation in Kosovo. My own personal short films have gone on to be screened at various film festivals, have traveled with an art exhibit to the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. They have aired on independent and cable television channels, and is currently on exhibit at Whitney Museum as part of the 2006 Bienniel in New York City.

I have also been actively involved in volunteering with local peace organizations: California Peace Action and the Department of Peace Campaign. And starting in April, I will be joining the Japanese NGO Peace boat as their on-board photo-journalist. Peace Boat is a cruise ship that docks in areas of conflict world wide, and organizes peace-building activities between the boat participants and the local organizations of the country.

I applied to this fellowship because I am dedicated to finding alternative solutions to conflict. I was undergraduate film student at New York University, when September 11th happened. And like many, I was profoundly affected by the event and I began to ask myself what am I going to do with my life when I graduate the following spring? I made a commitment to myself that with the skills that I gained from film school that I would create media that would bring awareness to issues of peace and justice, and foster greater tolerance and cooperation among people.

I see myself as an educator who gives lectures and workshops on conflict resolution while utilizing media to assist in people’s understanding of these issues. In order for me to help facilitate media that will truly create positive impact, I know that I need to further my education to understand the challenges that we are facing as a world society.

I also do part time work with inner city teens in East LA, teaching them filmmaking in after school arts programs. Being able to connect with the younger generation and giving them skills of creative self expression gives me immense joy. And so in particular I am interested in creating peace educational media that empowers youth in conflict whether it is here at home or abroad. I want to create a documentary series for high school and college students that focus on the different levels of peace: from achieving inner peace to understanding international peace relations. And by working with other educators, possibly the other scholars that I will meet through this program, and I envision this series being shown on PBS and used in classrooms across America. I also believe that it is important to highlight the valiant lives of individuals who are working for peace. Because on today’s television where violence is often glorified, I believe it is necessary to have an equal balance of positive stories and role models for our youth to look up to.

When I was growing up, I was told by adults over and over again that “you are our future” that “children are our future” Well, I’m no longer a child. And the future is now the present moment. It is now my turn to help create a safer and more peaceful world for the next generation. And I believe that this fellowship will give me the tools to do just that.
Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My dream for September 11th

I had just begun my semester abroad in London a week earlier. I was excited to be in a new city, making new international friends and interning for the BBC. On September 11th, at around 2pm, as our class began our teacher announced to us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We were surprised, thinking that it was a horrible accident but decided to continue on with our lesson.
When class finished, the secretary at the entrance to the building had breaking-news photos on her computer screen. “A second plane hit the other tower,” she said. My heart beating, I ran home turning on the television unable to believe what had happened.

A few days later I wrote in my journal:

The world has changed, it will never be the same again. I can not go back to New York and be the same. I cannot go back and live the same life I did… …I have always wanted to change the world. I want to make films that ask people to examine their lives, ask them if they are really doing what they want, if they are living their dreams. My life seems so trivial. It’s like what can I do? How can I keep on doing the same things that I’ve always done?

It has now been five years since that event. After returning to New York, I kept on asking myself, What can I do? what can I do? When I look back on that day, I realized how much it not only changed the world but change me as well. I wouldn’t be who I am today, someone committed to creating peace in the world.

I just recently discovered that on September 11th, 1906, Gandhi began the Satyagraha non-violent movement. So as we remember the 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, we can also commemorate one of the greatest achievements of the world-- the power of his movement to change the world and the hearts of man through non-violent direct action. Perhaps as he made his commitment 100 years ago, we can make our own commitment to ourselves today.

So what is my dream for September 11th? It’s my dream that it becomes a day of peace. So as we remember the tragedy of five years ago and say prayers for the lives lost, we can also see it as a call for peace. Not a call for war. Not call for revenge, but a call of people from around the world for peace.

Each of us can contribute to peace today and every day. Pray for peace, meditate for peace, talk about peace, join a peace activism group, or watch the film Gandhi.
Gandhi probably had little idea of how far his satyagraha movement would go, so you never know how far the commitment we make to peace will go either.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Walking for Peace from Kobe to Hiroshima

Hey, I copied this verbatim from what I wrote for the Peace Boat website about the walk I participated in August. It's already September, craziness! September is a very special month for Peace and I'll be updating my blog frequently over the next thirty days.

okay here goes:

On July 16th, the remaining participants of the 53rd voyage disembarked from the TSS Topaz at the Port of Kobe. Having sailed around the world for the past 102 days, their bags overflowed with gifts from unusual places and their digital cameras were jammed with the photos of their new international friends. The voyage took them to places previously unheard of and exposed them to diverse cultures, languages and global issues. While many of them were ready to return to their familiar lives and begin to look for work, a handful of them were ready to take the tools and skills they had acquired and put them into action.

A week later, six eager souls began a 320 km peace walk from Kobe to Hiroshima. Beginning their walk from the Port of Kobe as the 54th Global Voyage departed, they aimed to arrive to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome by August 5th, one day before the 61st anniversary of the Atomic Bomb dropping. Miki Tatsuya, from Yokohama, joined the walk because he not only saw the walk as overcoming a personal challenge but also because, “I thought that if people could see us persevering in the heat of the summer, the message would reach their hearts that much more.”
Peace walk leader Shunsuke Hirai from Osaka, who began organizing the walk a week before Peace Boat arrived back in Japan, said, “we learned about so many issues while at sea. I asked myself what will I do with what I learned when I get back to Japan?”

The photo exhibit of the Depleted Uranium victims in Iraq.
Six walkers began the 15 day journey, averaging 25 kilometers a day under grueling temperatures of up to 35° Celsius. The walkers carried with them gruesome poster images of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima hibakusha. They also brought along photos of Depleted Uranium victims in Iraq taken by photojournalist Naomi Toyoda. Ji Hae Song, from Korea, said, “On the ship, we learned that there are many other “hibakusha,” not just the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People in Korea, Iraq and elsewhere are suffering from the effects of radiation.” The participants have helped the public to make the connection, by setting up photo exhibitions at heavily trafficked train stations and shopping areas.

Walking through the city of Hiroshima escorted by the police.
The walkers have not only been speaking publicly about their experiences around the world but have made stops along their journey to learn about Japan’s imperialist military past. They visited the island of Okunojima, also called Doku Gas Jima (Poisonous Gas Island) that defied the 1925 Geneva Protocol to produce mustard seed gas from the 20s through 40s. At the Poisonous Gas Museum, they learned that to keep the gas production a secret, the island was erased from many maps at the time. Now, the island that has been converted into a resort. “The kids were swimming in the pools... they said they changed the soil but you have to wonder…” said Yuka Asada from Akashi.

The walkers pose in front of the A-bomb Dome.
As they got closer to their destination, more and more participants joined the walk. At local convenience stores and restaurants, words of encouragement came from the local community. “Keep on trucking along,” “Wow, you’ve walked all that?” have been a few of people’s reactions. Shunsuke said that an older man he met at a bath house reminded him that the hibakusha had walked the same route fleeing the bombing in much more dire conditions—higher temperatures and without water. “We should remember this as we walk,” he told the group in one of their nightly meetings.

On August 5th, 30 participants completed the last leg of the walk to the Atomic Bomb Dome. They carried the 13m banner “Pieces of Peace,” made out of messages of peace they collected from around the world. Along with it they carried a banner they had received from the World Peace Forum in Vancouver in late June. As they walked through the city streets of Hiroshima, escorted by police, Shunsuke and Peace Boat staff member Mika Hasegawa loudly announced on a megaphone, “We have just traveled around the world. We want a world without war and so we support Article 9 of the constitution. We hope that Article 9 will be adopted by constitutions of the world.” When they arrived at the Atomic Bomb Dome in the Peace Park, the six original walkers delivered the banners to the Peace Promotion Office at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. A 15 day, 320km journey through both city and country had come to an end. That evening, they celebrated with other peace activists from Japan anticipating the memorial event the following day.

The “die-in” held at 8:15 on August 6th.
While many thousands gathered in the Peace Park for the main memorial event, many of the peace walk participants choose to participate in an alternative event by the Atomic Bomb Dome. At 8:15 am, the moment the bomb exploded 61 years ago, several hundred people lay down in front of the atomic bomb in a “die-in.” Shunsuke felt that in reaching Hiroshima, he saw the potential to change Japan. “This is just one journey we have accomplished, I’m sure we will continue on many more.”