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2 Janesville students head to Japan to present research project

Research team spent months working on presentation

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Two Rock University High School students practiced Tuesday morning in preparation for the presentation they will give in Japan.

Junior Jonathan Muraki and senior Gabriel Britt were selected as ambassadors to join students from around the world at the Critical Issues Forum in Nagasaki, Japan.

With help from their research team, Jonathan and Gabriel spent the past three months putting together a presentation on the topic of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and its role for a world free of nuclear weapons. The topic was open for groups to decide what to focus on. The students at RUHS chose to look at the International Monitoring System.

“We believe that a good monitoring system, a good detection system, will deter many countries from wanting to test their nuclear weapons or use their nuclear weapons,” Jonathan said.

The CIF conference is invitation-only, and RUHS was one of just six schools from the United States chosen to participate. Four schools from Russia and seven from Japan will also be presenting at the conference.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with my peers from other nations and really learning from their perspectives and their stories and their research, as well,” Gabriel said.

Their humanities teacher Erin Jensen and RUHS Governing Board member Lynn Neitzel will be traveling to Japan with the students.

“It makes you feel great as a teacher to see your kids accomplish something so awesome,” Jensen said.

For Jonathan, the trip has a special meaning.

“I am half Japanese, and I’ve never been able to visit the country before,” he said. “So I am very interested in seeing the culture and the people personally.”

He also shares a personal connection with the research topic: His grandmother was affected by nuclear warfare firsthand.

“I believe she was 16 at the time. She was living in Hiroshima, studying to be a nurse in Japan, and they were lucky enough to live behind a hill on the outskirts of Hiroshima,” Jonathan said. “That’s how, at least, that’s how she says she thinks her family was able to survive the blast, luckily.”

Jensen said she hopes her students enjoy the cultural experience as well as meeting with like-minded students.

“If they come back knowing that there’s people out there that express their same interests and support them in what they want to do in their life, that’s huge,” she said.

The students and teachers leave Janesville at noon Wednesday and are scheduled to return April 7. The conference runs from April 3-5. The students will also visit the Atomic Bomb Museum and hear from atomic bomb survivors.

The other students on the research team are sophomore Greta Damiani, juniors Ashtin Lehman, James Taylor and Paige Gaithuraite and senior Kyira Romero.


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