Every year, students from UWC schools across the world join forces to host the Sino Japan Youth Conference (SJYC) at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, bringing together teenagers from the historically conflicted regions of Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to promote dialogue, mutual understanding and celebration of difference.
The beginnings of SJYC date back to 2009 when Chishio Furukawa, a then Japanese LPC UWC student, was looking for ways to quell the growing tensions that had erupted between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands dispute. This intense discussion also spilled into Taiwan and Hong Kong. Chishio looked to the youth of all four countries as a solution: by allowing them to come together and learn about each other’s cultures and history, SJYC hoped to achieve the ultimate aim of reaching a more peaceful future through mutual understanding. The conference has since inspired twelve years worth of participants from the region to become trailblazers of peace.
This year brought a unique set of challenges that forced the student organisers - who worked together across eight different UWC schools - to rethink many aspects of the well-tried SJYC model. I caught up with Justin Yam (LPC UWC, 2018-2020), this year’s Hong Kong Taiwan Regional Leader, to find out more about the conference and how they dealt with the many hurdles that lined their path in 2020.
‘Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle conflicts by peaceful means’ was chosen as the theme for this year’s conference. When asked about the relevance of this theme today, Justin explains “I think it fully encapsulates the current complicated state of world affairs, and why the conference is, therefore, more important than ever. It doesn’t aim to promote an unrealistic reality of absolute peace but instead tries to help young people develop to become peacemakers in a world full of conflicts.” (Read full article.)