Introducing Our Hollins University January 2019 Interns


maria headshotMaria Jdid is an International Studies major on the premedical track at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. She is from Syria and is passionate about the intersection between politics and medicine. Maria believes that an International Studies major is preliminary for an aspiring surgeon who wants to serve communities dealing with issues of equity. Maria has been heavily involved in Model United Nations and Model Arab League and will be serving as Co-President in the upcoming spring semester. In 2018, she was a staff member for American Model United Nations in Chicago, IL. In her free time, Maria likes to draw anatomical structures and read news articles. This January, Maria
is thrilled to be focusing her efforts within the
Peace Boat on the Sustainable Development Goals.


Harika Bommana is from Hyderabad, India. She is majoring in Communications and English with a concentration in creative writing at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Harika is passionate about activism and hopes to one day help raise awareness about issues regarding LGBTQ community, sexual assault, education and many more. She is looking forward to interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures. In her free time, she likes to read and visit museums. She is excited to intern at Peace Boat and hopes to learn more about sustainability, human rights and peace.

maryMary Elisabeth Cochran is from Virginia Beach, VA and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish at Hollins University. Growing up with a father in the US Navy and in a city with a strong US Navy and NATO presence has greatly influenced how she has seen the world around her and created passion for international policy. After going to Hollins, she joined the Model Arab League team and has recently debated as a delegate on the Environmental Council. By working with Peace Boat, she hopes to gain a stronger understanding of NGO operations and the intricacies of environmental and social policy work, while focusing on peace and education.

picture1Shivani Karn is an international student from Nepal, currently studying Communication and International Studies at Hollins University in Virginia. She will be graduating in May 2020. Shivani has grown up in Nepal, Japan and India, along with recently spending a semester in South Africa as an exchange student. Shivani hopes to become a human rights lawyer with the UNHCR someday and wants to pursue Law after completing her undergraduate studies. Shivani is passionate about reading and will pick up any book on a political and historical topic. Shivani also enjoys traveling and being exposed to new cultures, and will grab any opportunity available to visit other countries.


maddie 2

Maddie Clevenstine is a junior Gender and Women’s Studies major with a double minor in English and Art History at Hollins University. At Hollins, Maddie works as a tutor in the Writing Center, is the Head Editor of the University’s oldest literary magazine Cargoes and worked as a Student Success Leader her sophomore year. She is passionate about women’s health, education, and liberation. She is particularly passionate about the lives of LGBT+ women and wishes to spend her life working towards both the theory and praxis of liberation for all marginalized people. She is excited and honored to be interning at Peace Boat and can’t wait to learn more about how she can contribute to the goal of global peace. She believes everyone has the ability to impact positive global change.


This post was created and published by Maria Jdid

Review of Climate Week NYC

Climate Week in New York City brings together businesses, social enterprises and non-governmental organizations to work together on creating a world in support of the United Nations’ 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This year, Peace Boat attended several of these events held from September 19-25, and hosted one called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” to present its Ecoship Project. In addition, Peace Boat  attended the Sustainable Investment Forum, the Social Good Summit, and the International Conference on Sustainable Development during this week.

Social Good Summit

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Held annually during UNGA Week, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Our theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” During the Social Good Summit, global citizens around the world unite to unlock the potential of technology to make the world a better place.– Social Good Summit website


Social Good Summit Digital Media Lounge

For more than 30 years, Peace Boat has been working for the social good, fostering global citizenship, and carrying out activities that are embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, so Peace Boat US’ presence at the Social Good Summit in New York City on September18-19, 2016 was a natural fit.

The Social Good Summit brought together inventors, artists, activists,  youth, and UN leaders, and featured an incredible line-up of speakers that included Vice President Joe Biden, actors Alec Baldwin and Michelle Yeoh, and singers Demi Lovato and  Cody Simpson.


Cody Simpson, Singer; Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

In addition to being a singer, Cody Simpson is a surfer whose strong connection to the ocean has made him a voice for ocean preservation—a topic that is also of great importance to Peace Boat as it sails around the world. Cody spoke about fuel alternatives that would be better for the environment, and expressed interest in Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project, which is aiming to build the world’s most sustainable cruise ship and reduce carbon emissions by a whopping 40 percent.

At the Summit, underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry, whose work is featured often in National Geographic magazine, also spoke passionately about our oceans and climate. He focused on the damage caused to ecosystems from overfishing, and proposed the concept of fish farming instead. We should go from being a gatherer under the sea to being a farmer under the sea, he said.  Alec Baldwin talked about indigenous peoples, forests and climate change. Tropical forests are essential to fighting climate change, and we should invest in the people who are protecting the forest, he emphasized.

2030nowPeace Boat US looks forward to continuing to work with other organizations and individuals throughout the world toward global sustainability—especially with those who hold strong visions for positive solutions as represented at the Social Good Summit.




International Conference on Sustainable Development 2016


Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica

As an international organization that strongly supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goal of ending poverty worldwide, Peace Boat took a special interest in the fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development held at Columbia University in New York City on September 21-22, 2016. Keynote speakers at the conference included Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway;  and Jeffrey Sachs,  Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  With a focus on how to end poverty, the conference included panel discussions on the SDGs and how they related to the private sector, youth involvement in solutions, and data.

Prime Minister Holness spoke about his goal to end poverty not only in Jamaica, but also in the larger world.  Though not everyone believes this can be accomplished, nor does


Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

everyone believe in the SDGs, he stated, everyone wants to develop into something better.  This aim and desire for something better is the power we need to use to effect change, he asserted. Jeffrey Sachs spoke about the ethics of politics, and where countries should place their focus.  Currently, the United States is spending millions of dollars on war in other countries, he pointed out, while this money should be spent on education instead. By focusing attention and funds on education, we could teach more about the SDGs and make a significant difference.


Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Prime Minister Solberg talked about her work for the SDGs, and how she was chosen by the UN Secretary General to lead the working group for the SDGs because of how Norway operates.  Our current young generation is the last generation that will be able to eradicate poverty from the world, she emphasized, and it is therefore important for youth to learn more about sustainability in order to be able to reach the SDGs.

The panels at the conference focused on different approaches to reach the SDGs, such as through the involvement of the private sector, youth, and effective use of data.  Various participants were invited to show what their company is doing to address climate change and poverty.


Panel discussing different approaches to reach the SDGs through involvement of the private sector

It is important to work towards the SDGs, but it will be hard to reach these essential goals for global sustainability if most people in the world are not aware of them. Therefore, Peace Boat encourages youth to travel to Latin America in the summer of 2017 with Peace Boat to learn directly about the SDGs as part of a special study program. To see the full itinerary of the Peace Boat voyage in which the program will take place, visit:


Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action


Jon Bruno, Executive Director of the International Ecotourism Society (TIES)

How can world leaders and decision-makers understand the fear that people living in small island countries face regarding the effects of climate change–and how can they viscerally understand the need to take urgent action–when global discussions about the problem take place in comfortable hotels in cities like Paris, far removed from the realities of those on the frontlines?  This was the question posed by Peace Boat Director Yoshioka Tatsuya at an event called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” held on September 22 as part of Climate Week New York City. Climate Week is an international event that gathers business and government leaders together to demonstrate how continued investment in innovation, technology and clean energy will drive profitability and lead toward net zero emissions.


Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat

At the event, Yoshioka spoke about how Peace Boat is currently developing the world’s most sustainable cruise ship—a project that will decrease the vessel’s CO2 emissions by an astonishing 40 percent through the use of wind and solar energy.  This Ecoship will also feature vertical gardens, a zero waste water system, and other innovative features. Peace Boat’s aim in building the ship is to not only offer a solution to climate change and set a high new standard in the shipping industry, but to take thousands of people around the world every year to places that are directly feeling the effects of rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.  This will give people a much better understanding of the urgency of the problem, and of the need to help find solutions with those who are most affected.


Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations speaks about the effects of climate change on island states. 

Peace Boat was joined at the event by Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations, who emphasized the importance of taking action on climate change.  Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of the Green Belt Movement, highlighted the important role that Peace Boat plays in providing education and experiential learning opportunities to young people, noting that Peace Boat has given people the opportunity to help plant trees in Kenya and learn from Green Belt Movement members about reforestation and other issues. John Bruno of the International Ecotourism Society noted that Peace Boat’s plan of reducing emission by 40 percent is truly groundbreaking, considering other companies and organizations generally aim for cuts of 2 percent. Margo LaZaro of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development expressed the importance of forming partnerships to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and lauded Peace Boat’s plan to use the Ecoship as a flagship to sail for the SDGs.  Clayton Banks of


Clayton Banks, Founder of Silicon Harlem

Silicon Harlem spoke of the need to provide young people greater access to the technology they need in order to succeed in education, and noted that Silicon Harlem and Peace Boat have the shared goal of giving people access to the technology and opportunities they need to reach their fullest potential. “We are all united in this,” he emphasized.

The speakers also agreed that being on a ship in the middle of the ocean is akin to our experience here on Earth—just as one cannot simply leave the ship when waste builds up or suddenly find new resources while at sea, human beings cannot simply exit the Earth to leave behind our devastation or to seek out new solutions. We must be aware of our existing environment and work together to find solutions to keeping it sustainable. Creating and expanding partnerships with governments, the private sector, schools, and civil society organizations is the key to making this happen, they concluded.


Yoshioka Tatsuya, Peace Boat Founder and Director; Margo LaZaro, Co-Chair, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY; Jon Bruno, Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES); Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

Peace Boat is aiming for its Ecoship to sail in 2020, and experts from various fields have already met and created the ship’s design. To contribute ideas to the project, including on how to fund the ship’s construction, contact Peace Boat.  No idea is too big or small for consideration.


Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of The Green Belt Movement speaks about empowering communities to take action for climate change.



This post was created by and published Cecilie Barmoen (Intern from Peace Boat US)

9/11 Memorial

Fifteen years ago this month, Peace Boat joined the world in feeling deeply saddened by the September 11 attacks on the United States. This year, as a number of 9/11 anniversary img_1766
events were held in New York City–including moments of silence at the World Trade Center, a Tribute in Light that illuminated the New York City Sky at the 9/11 Memorial
Plaza, and the ringing of the Bell of Hope at St. Paul’s Chapel across from the World Trade Center–we again remember the innocent lives that were lost.  We also pay tribute to those who survived, to those who helped others to survive, and to those family members and friends who lost loved ones.


When Peace Boat’s ship docks at Pier 90 in New York City on October 20-21 of this year as part of its Global Voyage for Peace, our hope is that it can be a small symbol of the inherent yearning for peace that citizens around the global share.  A symbol of the rejection of violence, and of the importance of creating new opportunities for friendships, learning, and positive action.  A symbol of the value of people-to-people diplomacy, and of the importance of minds coming together to create a sustainable world in which all people call thrive.

img_1727As we open our ship to the New York City public and welcome onboard officials from the United Nations, from governments of countries large and small, educators, students, civil society representatives, artists, musicians and others, we look forward to creating an “International floating village” here in New York City just as we do when our ship is sailing around the world.  We look forward to the exhilaration that is felt when people of different walks of life come together and share a common vision of humanity living up to its highest potentials.

Lastly, as we prepare to visit New York City next month, 15 years after 9/11, we feel tremendously grateful to all those who made extraordinary efforts in the days, months and years after the tragedy to help the city to recover.  It is your resilience and caring that makes our visit of peace possible.


This post was created and published by Cecilie Barmoen (Intern from Peace Boat US)

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)

Special Interview with New York based videographer, Joshua Harms

  1. Please describe the work you did as a videographer  with Peace Boat.


“I joined Peace Boat’s 79th Global Voyage from Panama to Guatemala for five days and filmed the events onboard and in the ports of call for an upcoming documentary about Peace Boat US, which ranged from all aspects of  life onboard the ship, language programs, staff members’ interviews, Peace Boat culture and the overall experience.”

2.) What did you find most interesting while traveling with Peace Boat from Panama to Guatemala?

“The most fascinating aspect of traveling with Peace Boat was the passion and the culture of everyone taking care of each other. Everyone was truly genuine and open about making the world a better place. Furthermore, they all cared about real humanitarian issues.  It was also a special experience to do a home-stay with a family in the Mayan village in Guatemala. The people in the community were so inspiring and I learned a lot from spending two days on the study program with Peace Boat. 

 3.) What inspired you to get involved with Peace Boat as a videographer?

“I met the Director of Peace Boat US, Emilie McGlone, at a benefit for those affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York, which was organized by Parties for Peace , a non-profit production group that promotes peace through music and dance events to raise funds for important causes.  At the event, I was in charge of lighting and projection mapping. I later found out about this opportunity via her post on the internet and applied as a videographer for the program in Latin America. She was an inspiration and I felt honored to have worked with her.”

4.) What did you enjoy most about Peace Boat?

“I enjoyed the beautiful open ocean, seeing Indigenous cultures and different societies around the world! It was awesome to walk in the jungle  of Panama and hang out on the deck of the boat, overlooking the ocean at sunset. Peace Boat is an adventure in itself,consisting of day excursions and exploration in different countries – which are all inspiring and a lifetime opportunity for the participants and volunteers onboard.”


5.) Where would you like to travel in the future on the Peace Boat, and why?

“There are so many countries that I would like to visit and learn about the culture, but I am especially interested intraveling to Japan, Brazil and Australia.”

6.) How would you encourage people to join the Peace Boat and learn about global issues we face today?

“Traveling with Peace Boat is such an amazing experience, and I think everyone should have a chance to travel and learn about these important issues with an International NGO such as the Peace Boat. It’s incredible to see how big the world actually is and to be in the epicenter of it all is life changing.”

7) What do you think of the new project MAPA (Music and Art Peace Academy) onboard the Peace Boat?

“It’s an amazing initiative and I want to be more involved in it! It’s incredible to spread the message of peace building and peace keeping through art and music. Onboard the ship, as we were traveling from Panama to Guatemala, we actually had a huge party in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and I did a live DJ and Visual art set on Peace Boat’s open deck, projection mapping, a dance party! It was super fun and everyone had a great time! There are so many opportunities for artists and musicians to get involved with the MAPA project and I look forward to playing a role in the development of the program as a videographer and IMG_1258visual artist based in New York.”

For more information about Joshua Harms and LUMENOTI, visit

For more photos from Emilie and Josh’s voyage on the Peace Boat from Panama to Guatemala, visit the photo gallery here online:



Meet Maria Perez!

Speaking during an onboard press conference. Photo courtesy of Maria Perez.

Speaking during an onboard press conference. Photo courtesy of Maria Perez.

Maria Perez wears many hats as the Colombia-based International Coordinator for Peace Boat. Peace Boat US intern Michelle Terazawa recently did a special interview with Maria about her experiences as a longtime member of Peace Boat’s worldwide team. Read on for Maria’s thoughts on world travel, contemporary issues in Colombia, and–of course–Peace Boat!

1). Could you please introduce yourself, describe what your position is, and tell us how long you have worked for Peace Boat?

My name is Maria Perez. I am a graphic designer by profession, activist and traveler by heart. I have been involved with Peace Boat for the last 8 years. First I was a volunteer as a Spanish teacher onboard with the GET program, and for the last 6 years I have been involved as a staff member. I work as an international coordinator and am based in Colombia, where I am involved in Latin-American issues, activities and exchanges: coordinating programs onboard Peace Boat, along with logistics in ports of call and relations with contrapartners in the region. I also support graphic design work for the Peace Boat offices in Tokyo and New York.

2.) As a native Colombian woman, what do you see as the major issues faced by Colombians right now? How are civilians coping with these issues?

Right now Colombia is under peace dialogues to sign the Peace Agreements, which address some of our biggest problems such as violence, economic differences and human rights. All this is a long and deep history and will take some time to resolve, and some civilians are more engaged than others. But so far, I believe that Colombia wants and deserves peace.

3.) What inspired you to get involved in this particular line of work with Peace Boat?

The people I have met on Peace Boat are the ones who inspired me to get more involved (staff, volunteers, participants and guest educators). We all believe in a better world and everyone is doing his or her own part to achieve that. In my particular line of work, I think Latin America has a lot to offer, with lots of diverse cultures. There are many interesting social changes happening there, and many people and communities being part of those changes.

4.) What do you enjoy most about Peace Boat?

The opportunities to hear, feel, see and learn directly from different cultures and people. I enjoy meeting people a lot because they all inspire me in different ways.

5.) What has been your favorite place to visit on the Peace Boat and why?

Every place has its own magic, but Peace Boat was the change that led me to visit, live and work in Japan, which has been an incredible experience in my life path. There are places that I never imagined I was going to visit, like Eritrea, Seychelles, the Antarctic… Peace Boat has been my favorite place to visit interesting stops.

6.) How would you convince people to get onboard the Peace Boat and learn about global issues that our world faces today?

By sharing what we really do. More than a boat that travels, Peace Boat is a community to learn, live, and feel the world… It’s an amazing experience with really interesting and engaging people from all around the world, people who are full of enthusiasm, curiosity and knowledge.

In the Antarctic. Photo courtesy of Maria Perez.

In the Antarctic. Photo courtesy of Maria Perez.

This post was created and published by Helen Hope Rolfe (Intern from Peace Boat US)