The Ship for World Youth (SWY) is set to sail again in January 2017, with 12 youth from New Zealand, Kenya, Ukraine, Egypt, Brazil, Canada and representing their nation and culture in the programme hosted by the Japanese Cabinet Office and Japanese International Youth Exchange Organisation.
Also known as the ‘Global Young Leaders Development Programme,’ SWY was initiated by the Japanese Government in 1987.
Since then, it has seen world leaders like Helen Clark involved.
The aim of the conference is to help young leaders between 18-30 build on their cross-cultural relations, leadership, and project management skills.
This is achieved through seminars both in Japan and on board the cruise ship.
The most recent SWY Programme (SWY28) sailed from Yokohama to Chennai (India), and Colombo (Sri Lanka) before returning to Japan.
While in these ports of call, delegates were able to make institutional visits, debate local and national issues diplomatically, and experience diverse new cultures.
SWY29 will be in Auckland on February 12, 2017 and in Suva, Fiji on February 17, 2017.
Past Aotearoa participants and delegations have organised community, national, and international events to promote their new learned skills, for example blood donations and beach clean ups among other activities.
One such New Zealand campaign is ‘OWD Socks’ (Opportunities Without Discrimination), run by me as a SWY27 delegate.
The campaign aims to help change cultural misunderstandings that continue to exist in our society. Other participants have commented on the SWY programme stating it was a ‘life changing opportunity that opens your eyes to the possibilities that exist if we learn to work together.”
Brandon Jackson, a New Zealand delegate on SWY28, said that he met friends (about 230) who became family.
“Absolutely, none of us returned home the same,” he said.
The New Zealand alumni are very grateful to the Japanese Government for inviting New Zealand youth to represent Aotearoa in SWY 29.
Applications from eligible youth closed on August 12, 2016.
-With Anna Hoek-Sims, Media Contact. Phone: 027-3909643; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashish Naresh is Co-Chair of SWY NZ Alumni, Board Trustee of UNICEF New Zealand and former Vice-President of Multicultural New Zealand.