After returning home from a trip to Japan, one local teacher now is set to bring the lessons she's learned on peace education to the area.
Stacie Lakatos, a West Branch School elementary teacher, recently was part of a group of teachers from around the country to visit Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Kyoto.
The tour, The Five College Center for East Asia Studies and funded through the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, was offered to Lakatos after participating in the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.
Stacie Lakatos, West Branch School elementary teacher, center, stands with students from Mihara Junior High School in Hiroshima, Japan.
By visiting sites that are focused on peace education, the goal was to begin creating curriculum on the subject in the U.S.
Lakatos explained that peace education and studies can be looked at in two ways: Peace and conflict, and peace and justice.
Peace and conflict is more of an analysis of events and responses to those actions. Peace and justice looks at ethics and morality.
"What we did in Japan was we studied both," Lakatos said. "Very few of (the teachers) really had an understanding of what peace studies were before this."
The group of 11 teachers visited museums, memorials and schools. In a Hiroshima high school, each teacher spent the day with four students who took them on tours of museums and Peace Park. They also had the opportunity to speak with administrators.
"They talked about how they do peace education in their schools," Lakatos remembered.
The group also had the opportunity to meet with Masahiro Sasaki, brother of Sadako Sasaki, who is known for her story "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes."
"He told us his story and her story. So for me that was probably the highlight of the trip because I'm so familiar with the story," Lakatos said.
After visiting and speaking with many survivors of the atomic bombings, the teachers were given the task of writing curriculum on peace education and creating awareness for it.
The experience was
powerful, Lakatos said. It was one that she wouldn't be able to get from simply reading a book.
"All of my life, I've learned about history, World War II and the atomic bombing but to be there where it happened, to see the buildings, to see everyday items in the bombings, to see the images of suffering, it made such an impact on me," she said.
And it's not simply saying war is a bad thing, Lakatos said, but learning about the consequences.
"It's easy to say, 'I believe in peace. There shouldn't be war.' But now I feel I need to be proactive," she said.
To begin her introduction of peace education, Lakatos had some of her students simply answer what they thought peace was. Students had answers such as, "hugs," "kindness" and "good." After reading these responses and her experiences in Japan, Lakatos said she has a new sense of peace.
"Peace is broader than what I thought," she said.