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February 20-27, 2016

NY Social Justice Seminar - Part 1
February 20-27, 2016

The Social Justice Seminar was held in NY from February 20-27, 2016. The Wesley Foundation supported seven participants from Japan. Please read about their experiences during the seminar.

Yu Murakami's report of Day One
After the 12 hour flight, we finally arrived safely in New York.
Today, we met the other participants from the U.S. and Korea who we are going to be with during the seminar. One of our leaders, Jennifer, had us sit in a circle during our meeting so that everyone could see each other. After self-introductions, we played a game called "common thing". Each group of four found common things among the members (for example - we all enjoy music and dancing, we all have siblings). Even though we are all from different countries and have different backgrounds, we still have a lot of common things.
Tonight, everyone seemed tired after the long flight, but we are excited for what awaits us tomorrow!

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Yuri Shishido's report of Day Two
Today was our first morning in NY. I was so excited and I got up very early, although it might be the result of jet lag. We gathered at the hotel lobby and left for the Church of the Village, part of the United Methodist community.
We received a very warm welcome there. During the service, we sang hymns, prayed together, listened to the gospel choir, and listened to the message from Rev. Vicki Flippin. The message title was very unique: "Jurassic Park and the Temple of God". It was humorous and I enjoyed it. The message was that God is like a temple - unless we visit it, it will be empty. If we visit it, it will give us some new spiritual truth from scripture and from each other. Those words stuck with me. Also, during the service there was a time to be healed with prayer and oil from the ushers. I felt it was a good way of healing.
Then we left for the Church Center of the United Nations for the seminar. It is in front of the United Nations head office. The room has good scenery. We had Indian food for lunch together. We started the seminar with an ice breaking game. Then we established the ground rules for the seminar, such as respecting the speakers and listeners, remembering to use "I " statements or "in my experience " since we have diverse backgrounds. Our first topic was thinking about the definition of "power" and "vulnerability". We gave examples of the images each of us had. Then we did a role-playing game where we got to experience how it felt to be a person with power, an ordinary person, and an outcast person. Then we had bible study time in small groups. We talked about connecting with "power" and "vulnerability" through John 8:1-11. We discovered the structure of power and vulnerability in the scripture. We each thought about where we stand and how we identify with age, class, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We thought about how power affects each identity. I felt that depending on how close I was to power, some identities become less important and some become more important. I felt that people who are far from power are more likely to become victims.
The seminar has only begun but we learned a lot today. I sense that what we learned today may be key to solving issues of human trafficking. Now, on to the deeper issues!!

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Kyoko Ishikawa's report of Day Three
Monday morning, we gathered in the CCUN (Church Center for the United Nations)chapel that is opened to all religions and learned what the CCUN has in the chapel and how United Methodist Women was founded.
We started the seminar by singing worship songs. After that we shared our knowledge of human trafficking in our own areas. We learned about what is happening in South Korea and the United States by drawing pictures and making a human trafficking tree with the leaves as effects and the roots as causes.
After lunch we watched the film "Not My Life" which is a documentary on human trafficking around the world and thought about what the courage means to us and how it relates to human trafficking. We also discussed the cycle of Liberation.
The content was so heavy today that I realized how complex the topic of human trafficking was. There is no way only one person could figure out a solution. I understand now why it is necessary for 3 countries to be involved in this seminar.

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