What is Peace Boat?
If you have been to Japan, you may have seen many posters (地球一周の船旅) pasted on walls of shops and restaurants (for some reasons, especially in the izakayas’ toilets).
Peace Boat is a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organisation that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development, and respect for the environment.
Peace Boat carries out its main activities through a chartered passenger ship that travels the world on peace voyages. The ship creates a neutral, mobile space and enables people to engage across borders in dialogue and mutual cooperation at sea, and in the ports that we visit. Activities based in Japan and Northeast Asia are carried out from our eight Peace Centers in Japan.
How did Peace Boat start?
Peace Boat’s first voyage was organized in 1983 by a group of Japanese university students as a creative response to government censorship regarding Japan’s past military aggression in the Asia-Pacific. They chartered a ship to visit neighboring countries with the aim of learning first-hand about the war from those who experienced it and initiating people-to-people exchange. From 1983-1990, they did voyages throughout Asia, making their first voyage to Korea in 1989. From 1990 onwards, they started their first international voyage and circumvented the world. Find out more about Peace Boat’s history here!
What does Peace Boat do?
Peace Boat seeks to create awareness and action based on affecting positive social and political change in the world. Peace Boat pursues this through the organization of global educational programmes, responsible travel, cooperative projects, and advocacy activities. These activities are carried out on a partnership basis with other civil society organizations and communities around the world, particularly in Japan and North-East Asia.
1. Peace Boat Voyages
Peace Boat carries out its main activities through a chartered passenger ship that travels the world on peace voyages. Three Global Voyages and one short Asian regional voyage are usually organized each year. The three-month Global Voyages are each joined by around 800 participants and visit between 15-20 countries.The Global Voyages usually travel different routes.
For example, in 2016, the 91th Global Voyage takes the northern hemisphere route, 92nd Global Voyage takes the northern and southern hemisphere route and 93rd Global Voyage takes mainly the southern hemisphere route.
Most people think that Peace Boat simply organizes local and global educational voyage. While Peace Boat voyages form the largest part of the activities, Peace Boat organizes many other events.
2. Other Peace Boat activities
Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV)
Peace Boat began its disaster relief work following the Kobe earthquake of 1995, and since then has provided disaster relief support in Japan and around the world. After the Great East Japan Earthquake 2011, Peace Boat established PBV to focus on emergency relief and disaster risk reductions. Find out more about it here!
Since 2008, Peace Boat has invited Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to participate in the “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.” As of 2015, over 150 Hibakusha have travelled around the world giving personal testimonies about the effects of the atomic bombs and calling for nuclear abolition. Find out more about it here!
Global Article 9 Campaign
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential. In light of the Japanese government’s pressure to amend Article 9, Peace Boat together with the Japan Lawyers’ International Solidarity Association (JALISA), launched the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War in 2005. The Campaign strives not only to protect Article 9 locally, but also to build an international movement supporting Article 9 as the shared property of the world, calling for a global peace that does not rely on force. Find out more about it here!
These are just some of the meaningful Peace Boat activities. Find out more about the rest here!
Who join Peace Boat?
Peace Boat is open to everyone regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ideology or creed. The largest age group onboard is composed of retired people, but there are also many young people. The majority of people who participate in Peace Boat voyages are Japanese. They come from various walks of life and represent all ages. Between 800-1000 people join each voyage.
For most people, it is a once in a lifetime once to travel around the world. Everyone has a different reason why they join Peace Boat. Some have worked so hard all their life so they want to see the world when they retire. Some want to take time off and think about their life and career. Some want to take a GAP year. Some want to leave a new language (through the GET Programme). Everyone on Peace Boat has an interesting story and that is what makes the Peace Boat experience so interesting.
How to be part of it?
As participants (if you have saved enough money!)
You can join as an international passenger! Even though life onboard is mainly conducted in Japanese as the majority of participants onboard are from Japan, you can learn much about the Japanese language and culture onboard. There are many nationalities onboard and so there is always a lively international presence and many people communicate in English and sometimes Spanish. Find out more here!
As volunteers (if you have the skills and heart!)
a) Interpreters (Communication Coordinators)
Volunteer interpreters will facilitate exchanges between international guests onboard, local people in ports and Japanese speaking participants. I think the Communication Coordinators (CCs) work very hard as they have to provide translations for many onboard and port activities. I am so impressed by how talented they are and the incredible opportunities they have when they participate in many meaningful events and interact with many guest educators. The CCs on the 88th Voyage were amazing! They became great friends who helped me all the time. Find out how to be an interpreter here!
b) English or Spanish teachers for the GET (Global English / Espanol Training) Programme
The volunteer teachers work for Peace Boat’s onboard language programme is known as GET (Global English / Espanol Training) Programme. GET is a communication-based programme that aims to improve students’ communicative ability and instill confidence in using English and/or Spanish through a dynamic combination of onboard classroom study, language based events and activities, and exchange programmes in ports of call.
A significant proportion of participants on board Peace Boat join GET. There is a representative cross-section of ages, coming from all walks of life. Some have studied English and/or Spanish extensively, while others are tackling the language for the first time.
The volunteer teachers must fulfill a list of requirements:
- Have at least 18-months of relevant full-time English/Spanish language teaching experience.
- Be a highly advanced speaker of English – it is not necessary to be a ‘native’ or ‘first-language’ speaker.
- Have experience or a definite interest in the areas of peace and global education in language teaching
- Proven ability to independently design curricula and create original lesson plans.
- Experience working both independently and as part of a team.
- Ability to be flexible, a good communicator, and have volunteer spirit.
- Be in sound physical and mental health – capable of working long days and for long periods at sea.
- Have access to consistent and reliable internet access for the months leading up to the voyage so as to participate in pre-voyage study.
Applicants with the following will be looked upon favorably:
- Teaching qualification(s): CELTA, TEFL, TESOL, or similar.
- Experience with public speaking or addressing large audiences and being on stage.
- A specific interest in improving their language and peace education skills.
- Japanese language ability.
- Experience teaching in Japan and/or understanding of Japanese culture.
- Experience living and working in foreign countries or with foreign cultures.
For more information, visit here and download the updated application pack!
I was very lucky to be able to join the 88th Peace Boat Voyage as a volunteer English teacher. I was working in Okinawa as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET ) when I applied for Peace Boat.
Journey to be a volunteer teacher on 88th Peace Boat Voyage
- January: Started preparation
- February: Preparation (especially writing lesson plans)
- March:Preparation. Sent the application.
- April: Received news for interview. Prepared for interview. Travelled to Tokyo for interview.
- May: Received results of interview.
- June: Preparations for voyage (skype, emails and etc.) Applied for required visas.
- July: Preparations for voyage (skype, emails, packing and etc.). Preparations to leave JET.
- August: Flew to Tokyo! Orientation. Departure for voyage!
What is needed?
1. Applicant Personal Data form (provided in the application pack)
2. Current resume / CV including contact details for two professional references that are available to contact at the time of application (no more than one double-sided A4-sized paper)
3. Cover letter explaining why you would like to join Peace Boat as a volunteer language teacher and how you can contribute to the programme (no more than one double-sided A4-sized paper)
4. Three brief, original lesson plans which help us clearly envision how you would teach (each lesson plan should be no more than one double-sided A4-sized paper – if including handouts, they must not exceed one double-sided A4-sized paper per lesson).
- 40-minute Open Class (beginner level) – 80 students
- 60-minute Group Lesson (beginner level) – 6 students
- 60-minute Group Lesson (advanced level) – 6 students
5. Description of a self-organised event(s) you would like to organise on the ship. You can either describe one in detail or a few more briefly (no more than one double-sided A4-sized paper). Outline your planned event(s) with as much detail as possible, bearing in mind the likely audience on board and any possible constraints of being on a ship.
With some tips from my friend (who joined the 81st Peace Boat Voyage), I started by reading the application pack so many times (to fully understand the GET’s philosophy and teaching job scope). I spent a long time researching, writing my resume, cover letter and lesson plans (which my kind colleagues checked for me and gave very useful comments). I remembered I was so nervous when I clicked “send” and emailed my application just hours before I jumped on the plane for my spring vacation!
Interview and beyond
I was informed that I was shortlisted for interview about 1.5 weeks after the application dateline ended. Yeah! But I had only about 2 weeks to prepare for the interview. Firstly, I had to purchase air ticket to Tokyo (from Okinawa) for the interview and booked accommodation. I prepared answers to the questions which I thought would be asked during the interview. I forced my friends to “interview” me and critiqued my answers. I also shamelessly begged my students and colleagues to be “guinea pigs” so I could practise my demonstration lesson with them.
Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to queue for 45 minutes to eat the famous Fu-unji (風雲児) tsukemen and become a diarrhea victim while staying in a not very conducive capsule hotel in Shinjuku – one night before the interview. I somehow survived the demonstration class in the morning. I managed to finish the 10 mins lesson with some mistakes but hopefully without making anyone too bored or confused. The interview session was intense. They were kind; however, they needed so much information that I was just answering non-stop breathlessly (with some nonsensical responses) throughout the interview. After the entire session, I had to rush to the airport, collect my ridiculously heavy suitcase, fly to Singapore for a long overdue visit and try to forget about my embarrassing mistakes on the flight.
About 1 week later, on a Saturday morning, I woke up after a late night out, groggily checked my mail in bed, and saw it – CONGRATULATIONS!
It was already quite a journey till this stage. I spent the next few months preparing for the voyage like applying for visa, communicating with the GET team, preparing teaching materials, downloading whatever I imagined I would need without internet for 108 days, buying travel essentials, packing and more. At the same time, I was preparing to leave Okinawa like packing and sending things to Singapore, moving out, visiting/eating bucket-list-items in Okinawa, preparing handover stuffs in school, helping debate students, making farewell presents, attending goodbye parties, and saying goodbye to Okinawa and everyone.
Looking back, it was so crazy before I even reached Tokyo for the orientation. Thanks to all the love, help and support from everyone, I was able to embark on my DREAM voyage.
Read more about my 88th Peace Boat experience here!
Information and pictures were extracted from the Peace Boat’s official website.