Motoko Hioki, a Japanese exchange student, and Jennifer Davenport, a senior English major and women's studies minor, were featured in the article “A thousand cranes for peace: HWS students work on project with Japanese exchange student” in the Dec. 3 Finger Lakes Times.
The two decided to use the Japanese symbol of peace, the crane, as their focus to raise awareness of peace among students of all ages as a final project in the course “Topics in Social Psychology: Peace.” The crane symbol comes from the story of Sadako — a young Japanese girl who survived the atomic blasts of World War II only to suffer from leukemia a few years later. She was told that if she created 1,000 origami cranes she would have her wish of good health granted. Unfortunately she died before completing her task, but the story spread and the crane then became a symbol of peace. There is a memorial to Sadako in Hiroshima where people send thousands of paper cranes to honor or memorialize someone.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do it was because I've never done it before … even though I was raised in Japan,” said Hioki. “It is [a] common thing to do for elementary kids, but I thought 'Why not for college kids?' I think when you are older, you lose the opportunity to do this kind of stuff.”
“When Motoko said she wanted to make 1,000 cranes, I thought it was a really good idea,” Davenport said. While Hioki taught second-graders at West Street Elementary School and students at Geneva Middle School how to fold paper cranes, Davenport used music and art to teach them about peace.
“I played the John Lennon song 'Imagine' … and I had them draw what they thought peace would look like,” Davenport said. The artwork was displayed alongside Hioki's paper cranes in the library atrium. The 1,000 cranes will be sent to the memorial to Sadako.
Betty Bayer, the women's studies professor who teaches the course, said she has been impressed by both Hioki and Davenport's efforts.
“They're to create an intervention project for peace, however they envision that,” she said. “I think for some of [the students], this has been a very eye-opening course.”
The students and their project received a “cheer” in the Cheers and Jeers section of the Dec. 10 Daily Messenger.