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Postcards for the Conflict-Torn


With all the troubles afflicting society today, many students would like to contribute something to help alleviate the problems that interest and concern them the most. For some the simplest option is to donate money. Others become more actively involved via volunteer activities, student organizations, or internships. But active involvement is especially difficult when it comes conflict-torn areas. We began searching for some way students could assist people exposed to the threat of violence in conflict-torn areas, and in the second half of November 2012, we decided on this activity to coincide with the period when people in Japan send each other New Year’s greetings by postcard.

Late last year, we organized a postcard collection drive to assist the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention as an activity of the “Living Together in a Global Society” Study Group. The JCCP is a nonprofit organization that carries out various programs aimed at providing the victims of conflict with the skills to build peace in their communities. Through activities in the five categories of on-site support, training human resources, education, research, and advocacy, it seeks to improve conditions in armed conflicted areas and build lasting peace to prevent further outbreaks of conflicts (by reference to the JCCP’s website). To raise funds to assist people in conflict-torn areas, the JCCP collects spoiled un-mailed postcards and exchanges them for stamps at the post office, then exchanges the stamps for cash at a discount ticket shop. This is the drive in which we took part.

(Collecting postcard donations in front of the library)

In the latter half of December, we began preparing signs, flyers, and two collection boxes. We visited the JCCP’s office to get advice on the wording of the flyers. During the second half of December, we posted the flyers at about a dozen locations around campus, announced the campaign in class, and used social media to get the word out to as many people as possible. Beginning in January, we placed the collection boxes at two locations and began collecting postcards. We placed a sign, flyers, and a collection box on the first floor of the library and placed flyers and a collection box in the Global Collaboration Center. In addition, during the week of January 7-12, we stood in front of the library to take postcard donations directly.

We received a total of 248 postcards and stamps combined. We were so pleased and gratified by this response, which was far beyond anything we had anticipated. A few days later, we delivered the postcards to JCCP on behalf of the students of Ochanomizu University. While the focus of our drive was conflict-torn areas, there are plenty of opportunities for involvement in other social issues and areas of interest. To all of you who want to do something but feel there is nothing you can do, we hope our activity will encourage you to take that first step.

We would like to conclude by conveying our sincere thanks once again to all those who contributed postcards, and to everyone who supported and assisted us in this initiative, including the Global Collaboration Center, the JCCP, our professors, and our friends.

(Misaki Saito, Akari Yanagishita, first-year undergraduate students,
Human and Social Sciences, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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