Shoko Nakatomi: Studying To Be ‘Peace Builder’

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 5, 2010

By Erin DuBois ’11

Last summer, in her quest to promote peace, Shoko Nakatomi traveled as far as Tanzania. A Japanese student in Arcadia’s International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) program, Nakatomi says that studying abroad gave her the skills to become a “comprehensive and useful practitioner.”

Her classes at Arcadia’s Nyerere Centre for Peace Research in Arusha, Tanzania, focused on the role of international law in solving conflicts in Africa and on the ways African organizations can contribute to the prevention and resolution of their nations’ problems. Arcadia operates the Centre in partnership with the multi-nation East African Community.

Nakatomi’s classroom learning was enriched by visits to nearly a dozen non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with a variety of issues, including poverty, HIV/AIDS, the plight of street children and persons with disabilities, and the empowerment of minorities.

“The experiences there gave me a chance to face reality and made me think about problems more deeply by knowing the difficulties and challenges,” Nakatomi says.

Her experiences abroad opened doors for her future career. She enjoyed the opportunity to listen to professors and guest speakers who had served with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the East African Community. Interning at the Japanese Embassy in Tanzania gave her practical knowledge in a field of interest to her.

“I’d like to work for various types of organizations that work for development, especially in post-conflict areas,” Nakatomi says. “My final goal is to be a ‘peace builder.’”

Wherever her future plans lead, she feels confident that she and her fellow IPCR students will continue to support one another.  Some of the other students aspire to earn a Ph.D. or start their own NGO, but they are all fueled by a shared vision.

“Our next ways are different from each other, but our aim is always the same—making peace,” Nakatomi says. “So we are always connecting, which encourages me to go ahead and makes me dream of working together in the future.”