I decided to take part in Peace Boat's 69th Global Voyage because I liked the idea of travelling the world on a Japanese cruiseliner together with hundreds of Japanese people. And in fact you can imagine Peace Boat as a floating Japanese city. Being one of only about 20 foreigners on board, I took the chance to get into toch with my Japanese cabin-mates and other passengers. At that time I studied Japanese language, culture and society for more than 3 years and so it was quite easy to make friends on board. One of the good things about Peace Boat is that you will have to speak and listen to Japanese every day. This alone will definetly help you to level-up your communicational skills very fast. Furthermore you will find so many different persons you can talk to. There are people from different parts of Japan and different social backgrounds and therefore you can experience Japanese regional dialects, informal language and slang. You will be able to learn things which are normally not thaught in language classes and which will bring your conversational Japanese to another level. Most of the time I spoke with Japanese youngsters about everyday life and contemporary cultural phenomena in our different countries. On the other hand I also used the opportunity to discuss historical and social problems with some of the older people and pensioneers taking part in the journey.
I also really enjoyed the port days. Together with Peace Boat's international staff we organized our own trips or took part in Peace Boat's programms. For me as a scolar of Japanese Studies it was really interesting to experience how this international NGO promoted Japanese culture and Peace keeping-activities in other countries through direct interaction and exchange.
All in all I have to say that this journey was a lifetime-experience and that I would highly recommend it to everyone who is interested in cultural exchange, global issues such as ecological sustainability and peace, as well as Japanese people and their culture. I recommend Peace Boat's Global journeys to younger students who are willing to learn Japanese and to those who already studied it for some time. The experience you will make will also contribute to your studies if you are researching Japanese civil-society, cultural diplomacy and volunteering in general.