Teens Learn Value Of Peace Via Paper Cranes
By JUNI WENDELIN FASTING
On a visit to Pearl Harbor last month, Castle High freshmen brought with them 1,000 origami cranes to express their wishes for peace at the “Tree of Life” memorial on the USS Arizona.
The students had folded the colorful paper birds as part of their small learning community’s project at school, and presented them to Pearl Harbor survivor Al Rodrigues at the memorial. The visit completed a mission that began as an inspiration two years ago across the Pacific.
On a school trip to Japan in 2012, Castle history teacher Shiloh Francis got the idea to make origami cranes to symbolize world peace. She incorporated the paper-folding into a lesson on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which concluded the unit on World War II in U.S. history for her ninth-graders. They also wrote haiku and tanka style poems from the perspective of bombing victims. (These poems are on display in the school library.)
“I think making the cranes became more meaningful after they learned about the tragedy of the atomic bombings,” Francis said. She worked together with Japanese language teacher Beverly Vierra on the project, with Vierra showing her own students in all grades how to make the cranes. They in turn were in charge of teaching the skill to Francis’ freshmen.
The goal was 1,000 cranes, but they had extras following the March presentation. Now they want to bring 1,000 more to both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials on the school’s 2014 summer trip to Japan.
“You have to make a thousand for one wish,” Vierra explained, referring to the ancient Japanese legend that says that anyone doing so will have a wish fulfilled by a crane.
Donations of origami cranes from the community are welcome and may be dropped off to Vierra or Francis at school. Small ones are preferred because they are easier to transport. For more information, call 233-5600, ext. 2289, or 389-7529.
Peace doesn’t stop with origami. Francis’ students will take their written thank-you letters April 7 to veterans of the 100th and 442nd battalions at their Honolulu clubhouse. “They are doing it to understand and empathize with veterans who sacrificed their lives to prove their loyalty to a country that did not fully trust them,” Francis noted.
Prior to writing the letters, students learned about Japanese internment and treatment during WWII.