Paper birds help to spread the message of peace

origami SUS-150223-110424001

origami SUS-150223-110424001

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A Japanese exchange student with a particular interest in world peace enthralled members of the Rotary Club of Seaford.

Ayumi Watanaba hails from the city of Nagasaki, which along with Hiroshima suffered the terrible effects of the atom bomb during the Second World War in 1945.

This perhaps explains her interest in peace education and in peace ceremonies that take place annually in Japan.

Ayumi made a presentation to Rotary members about herself and her studies as well as some of her aspirations for the future.

She was accompanied by Mandy Davis, President Elect of the partner Club, Seaford Martello Rotary Club, which is sponsoring Ayumi for her year.

The student has visited the UK twice before, the last time to Newcastle upon Tyne to improve her English – but unfortunately she found the Geordie accent very difficult to understand!

On this trip she is studying at the University of Sussex in the area of peace building for an MA on Conflict, Security and Development.

Her hopes for the future include securing an internship, a job related to peace development and engagement in a programme conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ayumi told the poignant story of the paper crane and the ancient Japanese art of paper folding.

This is an origami bird toy which is a symbol for peace epitomised by the experiences of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who became ill at the age of 12 in early 1955 as a result of the atomic attacks.

After she was diagnosed with leukemia from the radiation, Sadako spent her time in a nursing home folding origami paper cranes in the hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that anyone who created 1,000 origami cranes would be granted a wish.

Suddenly the audience became the participants. Ayumi showed members just how easy it is to make a paper crane, and then instructed those present to make one each.

President Ray Hazan did particularly well, but onlookers were surprised when he appeared to eat his!

There were some allegations of underhand practices by others – that is, cheating – but they have not been verified.