Ari Beser Joins the Peace Boat – Special Interview

Fulbright Ari Beser

Photo by Mark Thiessen from National Geographic

Peace Boat has the pleasure of welcoming Ari Beser to the October Global University program this fall, 2016. The program is centered around humanitarian disarmament, international law, and the UN. The ship will be going from The Hague, The Netherlands, to Amsterdam to Reykjavik, Iceland, to New York. Ari will join a two-week course from 4-21 October 2016 during our 92nd Global Voyage. This program will bring together 30 students and young practitioners from across the world to learn about the humanitarian impact of nuclear and other weapons, analyze various disarmament initiatives, and exchange ideas and perspectives with the international experts, educators, survivors and activists. The programme will conclude with a visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York where participants will present the outcomes of the course.

Ari M. Beser is the grandson of Lt. Jacob Beser, the only U.S. serviceman aboard both B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in World War II. He traveled through Japan with the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship to report on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Beser’s storytelling gives voice to people directly affected by nuclear technology today, as he works with Japanese and Americans to encourage a message of reconciliation and nuclear disarmament. His new book, The Nuclear Family, focuses on American and Japanese perspectives of the atomic bombings.

We asked Ari a few questions about his upcoming trip:

Q) What is your grandfather, Lt. Jacob Beser’s view on nuclear war?

A) He did not regret his actions but he believed what he did could be repeated and that we should not have nuclear weapons. I think since he participated in it, he knew what humans were capable of. It was not something he felt was worth the risk. 

Q) What are you most excited about for your upcoming Global University Voyage?

A) I am so excited to meet the young new personalities that are dedicating themselves to this issue. I think its obvious why I do this work, because of my grandfather and my duty to carry on his message. When someone who doesn’t have a family connection in the history is interested in the topic, i always want to know more about why. If they can get interested I think they are more relatable for other people who do not know much about the topic, and don’t know anyone who was part of the history. 

Q) Is there some way you plan to use what you learn on the ship? If so, how?

A) I hope to be able to create more content with the stories I discover on the ship. We are all trying to figure out a way where a world without nuclear weapons can be a reality. I look forward to hearing ideas, and learning from the perspectives each student will bring with her or him. 

Q) Do you think your history with Hiroshima and Nagasaki will make this a more fruitful learning experience than if you hadn’t had experience?

A) I do not think my experience in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is crucial for someone on GU to get an enriching experience. However I think what IS crucial is listening to a Hibakusha. Any chance you have to speak with a survivor no matter where you go, or dont go, is precious. I think in some ways you can never get back the first time you hear a testimony. That moment, that first survivor you speak with, it changes you and I think its really an important moment for any nuclear guardian. Not everyone can get to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. That being said, I think its extremely important that everyone who has the chance should visit Hiroshima AND Nagasaki. I think its important to visit both and not just one. Two cities were bombed, you don’t learn the whole story when you visit only Hiroshima.

To learn more about Peace Boat’s Global University, visit


This post was created and published by Christina Irwin (Intern from Peace Boat US)


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