Inspired after participating in the 2021 and 2022 ‘Hiroshima-ICAN Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security’, Sarah Strugnell (‘21) and Charlotte Yeung (‘22) were motivated to share their experiences, as well as their top tips, for prospective applicants to the 2023 Hiroshima-ICAN Academy.
Hiroshima-ICAN Academy Background
In 2023, the Hiroshima Prefecture and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, pronounced like “I can”), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will hold the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security. According to the Program’s website, the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy aims to “nurture global leaders who can make concrete contributions towards a more peaceful and secure world”. The Program brings roughly 30 youth (university or graduate school students, young professionals) approximately 25 or younger together to attend a three-part program, online (free) and in-person (non-funded), around an overarching theme.
Overarching 2023 Theme
This year’s topic is “Nuclear weapons and global risks”. Given that Japan recently hosted the 49th G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, with Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation as one of the main issues, this is a timely topic, but there is still a long way to go. This year’s overarching Academy theme should be approached from multiple angles to understand the impacts of nuclear weapons and their risks across all levels from decision-making to civil society.
Applications close on Monday, July 31, 2023, JST.
Past Programs & Why You Should Apply
“I attended the 2022 Program and it changed my life. The activists, policy experts, scientists, and students attending alongside me were deeply inspiring. Seeing advocacy in a myriad of situations from people of all ages all around the world surprised me. I never had a dull moment with my cohort. I kept in contact with many of them and it was through these people that I learned about my current summer research fellowship and even where I’m staying right now in DC! I still talk with many of them and we often meet when I’m in their cities. As an artist from the Midwest, I came into this with no policy background. The mentorship I’ve received from my cohort has been invaluable to my understanding of the international relations field.
In the academy, we toured the Peace Memorial Museum, Fukuromachi Elementary School, Peace Memorial Park, and spoke with activists and the mayor and governor of Hiroshima. Speaking with hibakusha, discussing nuclear ethics and history, and learning from people who have far more knowledge and experience in the political science and activist fields was remarkable and an experience that I will analyse for the rest of my life. We received handmade pencils made by Soh Horie, a hibakusha, heard from hibakusha like Koko Kondo (who was, as a baby, in John Hershey’s Hiroshima) and Yoshiko Kajimoto, and received a keychain and paper made from paper cranes from the mayor and governor of Hiroshima. It has been months since I left Hiroshima but it left me wanting to do more. I will return to Japan this fall to spend my junior year studying Japanese and Japanese historical politics. I’m now researching nuclear weapons education in America and Japan with the Federation of American Scientists. I think it’s likely that I’ll be in a career in nuclear disarmament or arms control. I don’t think any of that would have happened if not for this academy.”Charlotte
“Even though the 2021 Program was held online because of the pandemic, it was still an exciting way to meet like-minded youth from around the world. We had lively group discussions, heard deeply moving stories from Hibakusha, and learned about the fantastic work of ICAN and other groups that do exceptional work in line with the program theme of “civil society in action”. Unfortunately, we could not go to Hiroshima, but in some ways, I felt like I could live vicariously through Charlotte and the other successful applicants who went there in 2023!
I have been incredibly fortunate to attend many in-person and online programs for scholars pursuing research in and about Japan for over ten years, but, for me, the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy was different. The topic that brought us all together went beyond a shared interest in Japan, it was shared belief in the 2021 Program Theme: “Bringing humanitarian perspectives into nuclear weapons and security policies”. I think because our session was during the pandemic, we could all see the value in bringing humanitarian perspectives into tackling global issues.”Sarah
“When Charlotte contacted me through LinkedIn about the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy, we chatted over Zoom about the importance of playing to your strengths and putting together an application that best shows off what the applicant can bring to a diverse cohort. As seen through the eligibility criteria and the program themes, the Program Secretariat looks at forming an interdisciplinary cohort with a wide range of viewpoints and experiences. Applications are competitive, but it is good to remember that policymakers, artists, scientists, researchers, musicians, poets and activists can all bring something exciting to the table!”Sarah
“It doesn’t matter what you do so much as how you connect it to nuclear disarmament. I went into this with essentially no experience with Japanese history, Japanese, policy, or nuclear disarmament. I wrote about my experience advocating for other human rights topics using poetry, writing, and illustration and connected that to how nuclear disarmament has a long tradition in the arts. Look for an unusual perspective you have whether as someone from a nuclear-possessing state, someone from a background associated with nuclear weapons, advocacy experience, or something else.”Charlotte
Both Charlotte and Sarah reiterated how essential it is to carefully follow the application instructions on the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy website, paying particular attention to the program dates, eligibility criteria and the essay prompt. Applicants are required to read and refer to a series of reference materials to write their essays, so allow for plenty of time when putting together your application.
About Charlotte & Sarah
Charlotte Yeung is an inaugural New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellow, a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow, and a Youth4TPNW delegate. As a writer, she is an Amazon best-selling author of Isabelle and the Magic Bird, the 2022 Indy Youth Poet Laureate, and a 2023 National Youth Poet Laureate finalist and Midwest Ambassador. She is the recipient of a Boren Scholarship for Japanese and the Fitzgerald Undergraduate literary award. As part of the Polaris trilogy, one of her poems will be sent to the moon in 2024. One of her nuclear disarmament op-eds will be published this summer in Norwegian by Nei Til Atomvåpen. She previously founded and led a poetry workshop series for women and girls in Afghanistan. She is a junior at Purdue University and Waseda University.
Sarah Strugnell is a PhD student at Princeton University and affiliated with the Princeton Global Japan Lab. She is a recipient of the John and Julia Sensenbrenner Fellowship (2022-23) and a University Center for Human Values Merit Grant (2022-23). She is a former Victorian Government Hamer Scholar to Japan (2017), Monash Yoshida Scholarship holder (2015 & 2016) and JASSO scholarship awardee (2016-15 & 2019-20). Sarah holds a double Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Australian National University and the University of Tokyo, and a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours in Japanese Studies) from Monash University.