SWY Camp in Sweden

Written with excerpts from SWYAA Sweden

In the beginning of August, SWYers from all around the globe gathered in beautiful Stockholm where they spent a week attending Sweden’s SWY Camp.

The trip entailed two days spent in Stockholm sightseeing and four days at camp Västeräng located by Sweden’s second largest lake.  Fourteen different batches from eleven countries were represented.

“Friends from all over the world reunited to spend one week together, water skiing, kayaking, wall climbing and playing traditional Swedish games” says Mifuyu Shimizu from Japan.

At official reunions there is little time for casual conversations and spontaneous networking. Camp SWY provided the alternative; a laid-back, relaxed and informal event where old and new SWY bonds could grow and flourish.

“We wanted to reconnect to the SWY spirit by offering an opportunity to foster international relationships, personal development and cross-cultural connections” says SWYAA Sweden.

The planning process took 6 people. “We started a year ahead and moved over to having short meetings every second week for briefing and updates” says Carolina Hawranek of SWYAA Sweden.

K-G Eriksson, SWY Sweden’s treasurer first came up with the idea of doing a reunion at his campsite back in 2011. “It took almost 6 years until we had a board strong enough to start planning” he says.

They spread the duties amongst themselves, from budgeting, embassy contacts, bookings, accommodations, etc.

“To have small reunions is a wonderful way to fill up my SWY spirit” says K-G Eriksson. In particular, he enjoyed having so many new friends know Sweden- not just the internationally known facts but the downsides and background stories too. “It was fun to see them come to a normal Swedish supermarket and meet local swede’s” says Eriksson.

The camp was truly a communal effort, with participants being divided in letter groups to help with food and dishes. “A lot of things in SWY camp were so memorable from the long walking tour in Stockholm, the museums,  beautiful lakes and the food time ringing the bell” says Mahmood Alfarsi from Oman.

K-G Erikkson describes the time spent together as wonderful. “If you have a strong SWYAA board, I would absolutely recommend making something similar” he says.

“The Swedish love nature and the outdoors. We would love to host a similar activity in Spain!” comments Paloma from Spain, “SWY spirit for me is the wish of keeping our connections alive and feeling like you are part of the SWY family-a family that keeps growing even after SWY ends”.

Carolina from SWYAA Sweden says to not underestimate the work load of getting PY’s signed up and reminding them about transferring their fees.

“But once the SWYers arrive it’s all worth it!” she exclaims.

Photos provided by Mahmood Alfarsi and Carolina Hawranek


SWYing in Bahrain

SWYAA Bahrain  invited SWYers to participate in The First Global Youth Festival for SDGs 2018 in the Kingdom of Bahrain from October 20th to 26th. Sareema Husain from SWY 29’s Canadian delegation was selected alongside Matika Lauzon, and this is her account of it.

If I am to speak of my first visit to the Middle East, where do I begin? Do I tell you of the brilliance of the colossal mosques, their pointed tops paramounting the skyline? Or the grittiness of the desert and towering skyscrapers that were planted in the thick of it. The pastel colors –cashmeres, gold and off whites- provided a calming backdrop to the jutting signs of industrialization. Bahrain is a country comprised of 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf. Many of these islands are manmade which explains the empty square plots of land that lay in between the fancy hotels, lounges and cafes.



We visit the Isa Cultural Center and the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. It is strikingly huge, with a big open square in the middle surrounded by pillars made from Bahraini limestone. We don traditional abaya’s and thobe’s and follow the tour guide as he educates us about the long-standing history of the place. Built in 1987, the mosques carpet is from Ireland, the crystal chandelier from Austria, the carved doors from India and the glass globes from France. We stand underneath the central dome, the largest fiberglass dome in the world. “This is where we make all the bombs” he jokes. His humor is refreshing. As we are leaving, I spot a dusty cloud rushing to us in the horizon. In awe, I stand and stare at it; it’s rare I see clouds move so fast. Suddenly, I’m covering my eyes with my scarf and grinning at the novelty. I’ve been caught in my first sand storm!

The conference itself had insightful speakers brought in from all over the world. A blind man named Simon Wheatcroft sharing how technology has enabled him to run marathons without the use of a guide. A hacker named Jamie Woodruff tells us how we can all obtain free iPads with a little bit of trickery.  Gender equality, the changing face of the cyber age, and artificial intelligence-these were a few of the timely subjects the conference speakers elaborated on.


Lili Gil Valletta, cofounder of Cultural Intel, made me think about the impact of the language we use

Most importantly, the speakers reaffirmed what us SWYers know to be true. In terms of development, “it takes someone with a cultural perspective to bring up the tough questions”. How you interpret the world is how your brain is trained to see it. I was reminded how SWY primed us to act in a global sense, armored with the realization that cross pollination breeds creativity. SWY was a space that welcomed diversity and implemented in us ways to hold multiple views of reality and appreciate alternative value systems. It was humbling to remember that this beautiful structure we created could inspire us to demand for trust, accountability and transparency in larger institutions.

However, such pretty words aren’t applicable to all. During the Q&A session, a young girl raised the question: “What if my society does not allow me to live my truths?”.  One speaker encouraged her to build communities, pockets of resilience that could eventually forefront change. Another said to focus on changing systems instead of biased minds.

Visiting the fort was a highlight for me. Little did I expect this to be beside a high end shopping mall

Walking around the Manama shopping district

Sleepy SWYers












Being from Pakistan, I had imagined the streets in Bahrain would be filled with food stalls, children scurrying underneath them and thick city musk filling the air. But apart from the harbors and markets, the streets were empty. I later realized that sidewalks were few; Bahrain was not very pedestrian friendly as a majority of Bahraini’s drive. In 2006, Bahrain was labeled as the fastest growing economy in the Arab World and today, students are primarily educated in banking, finance, science and technology. Moreso, I met more female engineers in one week in Bahrain than I have in my entire life. When asked if they were the outliers in a male dominated field, they said no. Women in Bahrain are highly educated, as Bahrain was the first gulf state to have education for women in 1920.

During the nights, a festival took place outside the stadium with various stalls where you could explore Virtual Reality, observe youth innovators SDG related inventions, or grab some food and relax on beanbags by the stage, immersed in Traditional Bahraini folk music. Every night had its sparkle. One night, I joined the bicycle tour and rode steadfast into the desert, a soothing momentary escape from the bustling festivities. Another night, SWYAA Bahrain took us to enjoy a traditional Bahraini meal. Indulged by the warmth of Bahraini hospitality, we sipped Karak chai as we exchanged SWY stories and ruminations of Japan.

The last night, we clambered onto a mini bus at 4a.m. and drove to The Tree of Life to catch the sunrise. The Tree of Life or Shajarat-al-Hayat is a 9.75 metres high Prosopis cineraria tree that is over 400 years old. 92% of Bahrain is Arabian desert yet the tree has miraculously managed to survive despite extreme temperatures and lack of fresh water or nutrients. A security guard watches over it at all hours, making sure no loiterers climb onto it and break the sacred branches. As we were making the drive to this cultural artifact transformed tourist attraction, the desert was barren but speckles of civilization ebbed and shined in the distance. Hammer like structures toiled into the earth; some of these oil fields were on fire and I mistakenly thought their eruptive glows were the sun rising more than once. The scenery felt almost dystopic; it was no coincidence that us SWYers on the bus were discussing who would die first in a zombie apocalypse.








That last night felt surreal, courtesy of the lack of sleep and desolate landscape. We lined up and took pictures as the sun rose up and claimed its spot in the pink cotton candy sky. On a beautiful island in the Persian Gulf, I was incredibly lucky to experience a sliver of SWY all over again. It happened so quickly; they told us of our acceptance a week before the festival and suddenly, I was staying up late in a 5-star hotel room trading candies and having experiences doused in culture alongside fellow SWYers I’d never met before but felt like family. It goes without saying, but I am incredibly grateful to SWYAA Bahrain for all hard work they put into enabling SWYers to attend this festival and making sure we had a memorable experience. Bahrain; your loving generosity and delicious hummus will not be forgotten!

SWYAA Winter Clothing Donation Campaign

In many countries around the world, too many people often lack basic clothing. This challenge is amplified particularly during the winter months.

We hope to engage as many of the SWY Alumni and Associations as possible to take part in the Winter Clothing Campaign.

Our main objective is to gather and donate winter clothing items to a worthy organization of your choice that is responsible for spreading them through to
[1] the most needly regions of the city; and
[2] homeless people in highly urbanized areas.

The type of clothing gathered and donated will depend on the local needs of the engaging SWYAA: winter clothes for the countries where winters are present, and regular clothes for those where they are not.

Building on SWYAA Brazil’s project this past June, we are aiming to collect clothing items over the holidays in December and formally making the donation on January 18th – SWY International Day.


How it works:

1) Join the Facebook event called “SWYAA Winter Clothing Donation Campaign” and connect with your SWYAA.
2) Gather as many (winter) clothes as you can within the schedule, paying attention to your hemisphere’s dates. Call family and friends to help you with this project! 🙂
3) Focus on donating to a worthy organization of your choice.
4) On International SWY Day post a picture to social media with hashtags: #SWYAAWCDC#SWYAA+engaging country, #SWY+edition of engaging members
5) Enjoy the connection with other Ex-PYs, work as a team and make a difference in your country.

Examples of organizations you can donate to in Montreal:

CAPSS – Comité d’Action des Personnes Sans Statut

Jeunesse au Soleil / Sun Youth 

This project emerged from the joint action of SWYAA Brazil and SWYAA Canada. However, the spirit of this project is to be extended to all SWYAA around the globe.
Facebook event cover by Gabriela Rau (https://www.behance.net/gabirau) and Ítalo Silva

11th Global Assembly to take place in UAE

The Global Assembly aims to foster cultural understanding, enhance communication skills among diverse cultures and create an international platform for youth to promote cross-cultural cooperation and understanding allowing those youth to develop common perspectives about many of the pressing issues that require innovative solutions, in addition to highlighting the UAE government’s role in supporting and empowering youth. The Global Assembly participants are ex-participants of Ship for World Youth Programme.

The 12th Global Assembly will take place in Tonga.


Source: http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302643936


BLOOM – Be A Leader and Open Other’s Minds

Guest post by Kevin Kobayashi

On January 24, 2017 Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe compared SWY PY’s to buds of the sakura tree.  As one develops and flourishes into blossoming leaders, their true beauty inside and out is revealed to the world. In the past 5 months since SWY 29, the world has been my hanami. Every post-SWY visit has been humbling and inspiring, which has widened the horizons of my points of view, like the endless Pacific sunset. Here are a few of my adventures:

Anastasiia Stasiuk (SWY 29 Ukraine), Yaroslav Kucher (SWY 29 Ukraine), Anya Bobino (SWY 29 Ukraine), Mykhailo Zhernakov (SWY 29 Ukraine), Pavlo Kotenko (SWY 29 Ukraine), Alisa Berezutska (SWY 29 Ukraine), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Andrii Dovhyi (SWY 29 Ukraine), Svitlana Yarova (SWY 29 Ukraine), Rostyslav Kubik (SWY 29 Ukraine), Lidiia Kozhevnikova (SWY 29 Ukraine).

Anastasiia Stasiuk (SWY 29 Ukraine, Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Svitlana Yarova (SWY 29 Ukraine), Lidiia Kozhevnikova (SWY 29 Ukraine).


Svitlana Yarova (SWY 29 Ukraine), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Andrii Dovhyi (SWY 29 Ukraine), Anastasiia Stasiuk (SWY 29 Ukraine), Alisa Berezutska (SWY 29 Ukraine), Mykhailo Zhernakov (SWY 29 Ukraine).

Julie Sasaki (SWY 29 Japan), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada)

Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Ievgen Kozin (SWY 29 Ukraine)

Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Ievgen Kozin (SWY 29 Ukraine), Nesma Attiatalla (SWY 29 Egypt)

Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Nesma Attiatalla (SWY 29 Egypt)



Ievgen Kozin (SWY 29 Ukraine), Ilshat Sultanovich (SWY 28 Russia), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada).

Haruka Nakamura (SWY 29 Japan), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada)

Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), David Lipton (SWY 29 Canada), Yuuta Takamiya (SWY 29 Admin)

Emily Moon (SWY 24 Canada), Fabiola Alvarado (SWY Peru 21), Mike LaFleur (SWY 18/21 Canada), Raquel Saabe (SWY 23 Mexico), Carol Lee (SWY 11 Canada), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada)

Julie Sasaki (SWY 29 Japan), Kevin Kobayashi (SWY 29 Canada), Andrea Rojas (SWY 29 Costa Rica), not pictured here: SWY 29 Costa Rican Delegation, Tawhana Chadwick (SWY 29 New Zealand)


Cross Cultural Understanding in a Globalized World

Kyiv, Ukraine

Cross Cultural Understanding in a Globalized World

Diversity and inclusion is a concept best learned by experience, not research. On March 20th, 2017 I was fortunate enough to deepen my understanding of cross-cultural understanding with a group of fascinating students from Kyiv, Ukraine. Coincidentally, the visit to The European Collegium was to speak about just that. The importance of meeting, interacting, and exchanging with others is more relevant than ever. National boarders should be crossed, not armed. The word foreign should be celebrated, not feared. Curiosity is a natural beauty, not sin.

Through speaking and learning from a class of teenagers from Ukraine, I realized that cross-cultural is not a two way street, but an open sea. We do not travel down a road with a single intention in sight ahead. Our bearings lead us in many directions and learning is a constant process along the way. The Ship for World Youth Program fosters this international journey for all participants, and expands its reach to friends and family all over the world.

A very special SWY alumnus once said that life on board is just an appetizer. The real feast begins when we disembark the ship and join the global family for dinner. I didn’t know what they meant at the time, but I do now. This experience was enriching beyond anything imaginable while sailing the South Pacific on Nippon Maru. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to educate the leaders of tomorrow about a fantastic program called SWY.

Thank you to SWYAA Ukraine for their generous hospitality. To the greater SWYAA family, I cannot wait to meet you all in the future. After all, it’s all aboat the journey.

Kevin Kobayashi

SWY29 Canada

2017 SWY Canada Pre-Departure Training and Farewell Reception

2017 SWY Canada Pre-Departure Training and Farewell Reception

From the 12-16th January 2017, the official Canadian Delegation for the 2017 Ship for World Youth (SWY) Global Leaders program were in action in Toronto for a training and team-building session before departing to Japan! The packed program included various sessions on SWY protocol, Japanese language and culture and of course, National Presentation rehearsals as well as a farewell reception organized at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Ex-PYs mingled with the new delegation and shared their wisdom from past batches. The training wrapped up with team-building activities at the hostel.

Official SWY 29 Canadian Delegation Announced!

Special thanks to all Canadians from coast to coast to coast who took the time to share their stories and apply for the Canadian delegation for the Ship for World Youth. Over the course of the summer, we received nearly 200 applications. The talent, passion, and commitment across the country was immeasurable and highly inspiring. Behind the scenes, SWY alumni from across the country reviewed applications and rigorously debated their qualities throughout the selection process. In the end, the final selection was made to encompass a highly diverse team representative of different geographical and cultural backgrounds and personal experiences from all walks of life….no easy task to say the least.

The candidates who were selected have been notified and their bios have been posted on the site here. Again, we thank everyone for their time, effort, and patience throughout the selection process. If you have questions about the selection process, kindly email us info@swycanada.org.