Friday, August 24, 2012

Congrats Karin & Nilo!

Karin Harada from Japan!

Niloufar Rahim from the Netherlands!

We have elected the next two International Student Representatives who will each hold a two year term until the next World Congress! All of the Regional and National Student Representatives will be supporting them in the coming two years. This morning we all sat down to discuss the goals and plan of action. Get read world, we're coming!


Experience an Onsen with me!

Experience an onsen with me: The Japanese style of bathing 
Saturday, August 11, 2012

How many health professionals can you fit in a van when on your way to the onsen?

Peeling off my sweat-filled cycling gloves, I dig around in my backpack for toiletries and hopefully some dry clothes. I walk down the mountain side to the camp ground's main building where one can find the toilets, showers, and even a traditional onsen.

 I remove my shoes before entering the building and place them in a small cubby hole. As I wait in line, the building already feels like a sauna and I must wick the sweat from my brow before I drip all over the floor. Yes! Someone has stepped out of the room. Pushing through the door, I place my belongings in a pale, green basked numbered 108. One women is skillfully stripping down and preparing her basket of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, face wash, etc. before enter the main room. Another woman, a biker from our group, is in from the sink and mirror brushing her teeth. By now, I am completely naked and ready to enter the onsen.

The next door slides open and a bit of steam is released, ah so nice. I pick up a small pink, plastic stool, no taller than 10 inches (sorry, I'm still getting used to the different conversions), wash the seat with available soap, sit down, and grab the shower head. Turning the nozzle to cold, I begin washing myself very thoroughly like the two Japanese women beside me. The cold water feels great after a day of collected grime from cycling through cities, rice fields, and mountains. Now that I am squeaky clean, I am allowed to step into the onsen.

Depending on the location, the temperature can be 41-44 degrees C (well over 100 F, I believe) and the baths can be indoors or outdoors. This one was indoors. The small bathtub was running clear water filled with minerals good for the skin. Left foot in, right foot next, and sink all the way down to the neck. Mmm, what a great feeling after a long day of cycling. Muscles were relaxing, my mind was at ease, and I was able to rest my eyes for a couple minutes.

According to our Japanese volunteers along for the International Peace Bike Tour, most people take 1-2 hours in the onsen. Unfortunately, I did not have that option as I knew there was a long line of people trying to get into either the onsen or shower before the campsite's bathing facilities closed for the night. I then reluctantly got out of the tub, quickly rinsed myself and returned to the changing room. Once dressed, I hiked back up the mountainside, just in time for dinner.


Candle Ceremony

'No more Hibakusya, IPPNW'

After the first day of the Student Congress, we made our way to the A-Dome to remember the tragedy from 67 years ago. It is hard to believe Hiroshima has been rebuilt into such a beautiful city from the ruins I saw in photos while at the Peace Museum yesterday.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

We have arrived in Hiroshima!

The last leg of the journey from Nagsaki to Hiroshima; what a ride!

On August 20, we packed our van for the last time, fueled up with water and electrolytes, and planned our last 7/11 pit stop. Cyclists made the last push of 30 km to Hiroshima in the morning. Our welcome was filled with colorful signs and to celebrate, we tossed our organizers in the air.

As always, we had planned a tight schedule and had to rush off to meet the Mayor of Hiroshima. We walked into the room, most of us still wearing our grey bike tour shirts, and sat down in luxurious chairs with the press as we waited. Our meeting was brief, but well arranged as several of the cyclists were able to speak. Immediately after our meeting, we sprinted over to Hiroshima University to meet with student activists. They shared several presentations with us and vice versa. Our last agenda item was a planned dinner in a park. When Karin, one of our organizers said, “It’s just up the mountain,” our mouths dropped.  I thought, “Um, we just returned our bikes and now we’re going to hike up a mountain?!” Luckily, this mountain was far smaller than the ones we cycled up.

I realize it’s only been a couple days since the bike tour ended, but it already feels like a dream. The dream bubble of close friendships, intellectual conversations, sleeping under the stars, street actions to draw attention to our cause, and international cuisine made by cyclists will stay close in my heart.

John Loretz speaking at the ICAn Conference.

Now, we have already had the ICAN Conference come and go, and today is the last day of the IPPNW Student Congress. A handful of bikers have presented throughout and I will be giving my own presentation about ‘The Art of Storytelling’ this afternoon.

Tomorrow begins the 20th World Congress and I am truly looking forward to meeting more health professionals. I don’t think I am ready to go back to the U.S. yet. I am fired up and want to keep up the optimistic enthusiasm to make change in our world.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Arrived in Hiroshima

Finally we arrived! We were received by members of JPPNW at the peace memorial park at 12:00, dropped of our bags at the hotel, said goodbye to our bikes and now we are at the mayors reception! Look at Alex!
Greetings, alix

Last time packing the vans

A big thank you to our Aussie Misha who was responsible for the van packing the entire tour and fulfilled the task with Barbour and calmness!

last day before the end of bike tour

today is the last day before we are ending our bike tour so today we thought of making a short trip for sight seeing to miajima,a very touristic place
with many shrines and places of historic importance.we are now making a firecamp on the beach and making barbeque.we are making final talks about ending our bike tour.we will be attending the world congress at hiroshima from 21st.we are excited for that but equally sad about leaving friends of bike tour.overall,bike tour was a nice experience for all of us to share our activities and to work together for sustainable peace.we are comitted and motivated to work for peace forever.mohan