Caren Stelson



for all

Paying It Forward

In 2012, while work­ing on my research for SACHIKO, I received a Kawase Family Scholarship to trav­el to Hiroshima. The schol­ar­ship stip­u­lat­ed that I would attend two events:  the inter­na­tion­al Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, the anniver­sary of the atom­ic bomb­ing of the city, and Hiroshima City University’s week long Peace Symposium. My hosts and bene­fac­tors were Hiroyuki and Keiko Kawase, child sur­vivors of World War II, (Hiroyuki sur­vived the Hiroshima bomb­ing) now peace­mak­ers, ded­i­cat­ed to inter­na­tion­al friend­ship and under­stand­ing. The Kawases believed invest­ing in one per­son can make a difference.

Sachiko’s gift to Caren of a kokeshi doll sits in front of the uni­ver­si­ty sign. August 2012.

My week in Hiroshima made a big dif­fer­ence in me. As my under­stand­ing of World War II his­to­ry broad­ened and my insight into the hibakusha (atom­ic bomb sur­vivor) expe­ri­ence deep­ened, I found myself grap­pling with a pro­found sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty to more ful­ly under­stand the deci­sion to det­o­nate the atom­ic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On my flight back to the U.S., I won­dered how I could ever repay the Kawases for their gen­eros­i­ty. I had only to look back on my week in Hiroshima to find my answer. I promised myself, if my book SACHIKO had any suc­cess in the pub­lish­ing world, I’d cre­ate a schol­ar­ship in Sachiko Yasui’s name. I would pay back the Kawase’s gen­eros­i­ty by “pay­ing it forward.”

Keiko Kawase, Kim Stelson (Caren’s hus­band), Caren Stelson, and Hiroyuki Kawase August 2012.

On February 15, 2017, the Sachiko Scholarship for Peace shift­ed from dream to real­i­ty. Supported by the long and active sis­ter city rela­tion­ship between Saint Paul and Nagasaki, Metropolitan State University and Nagasaki University signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cre­ate a stu­dent exchange pro­gram between their two uni­ver­si­ties. Two pro­fes­sors spear­head­ed the project: Dr. Takayuki Miyanishi, Professor of Environmental Science at Nagasaki University and Dr. Sumiko Otsubo, Professor of History at Metro State, with Professor Michal Moskow. Drs. Miyanishi and Otsubo were inti­mate­ly involved in the writ­ing of SACHIKO. Dr. Miyanishi was Sachiko Yasui and my trans­la­tor in Nagasaki, and Dr. Otsubo cri­tiqued the Japanese his­to­ry woven through­out the text. The Metro State-Nagasaki University stu­dent exchange pro­gram was the per­fect home for a Sachiko Scholarship for Peace.

The Memorandum of Understanding Ceremony at Metropolitan State University, February 15, 2017

In 2018, Metropolitan State University will encour­age stu­dents to apply as exchange stu­dents to Nagasaki University for the sum­mer, and if inter­est­ed, apply for the Sachiko Scholarship for Peace to sup­port the finan­cial costs of the expe­ri­ence. One stu­dent will be cho­sen for the $1,000 schol­ar­ship after ful­fill­ing the scholarship’s cri­te­ria. By “pay­ing it for­ward,” I hope the Kawase fam­i­ly will under­stand how much I am try­ing to “pay them back” for their belief in me.

For more infor­ma­tion about the Sachiko Scholarship for Peace, con­tact Professor Sumiko Otsubo at sumiko.otsubo@metrostate.edu.

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