When I was working in Moldova, I would teach 3 weeks of each year for each grade (5-11) about peace and resolution conflict. This looked different depending on the age. Fifth graders learned about sharing. Ninth graders learned about date rape and rape in general. My seventh graders learned about the need for world peace and they learned to fold origami cranes. First we would have story time and then we would work on cranes. I was amazed at how some of the children, so far removed from WWII, Japan, Origami, cancer, or war could take such a liking from this lesson and Sadako’s story. But they did. I know that there are many versions, but this is the one I told.
“Some of you may already be familiar with the origami crane as a symbol of peace, and more specifically the tradition of ‘1,000 Cranes for Peace.’ For those of you who are not familiar with the origins of this tradition, it lies with the story of Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was just two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. While she suffered no immediate injury, the effects of her exposure caught up with her some ten years later and she fought a courageous battle with leukemia. After she had become sick, Sadako’s best friend told her that the crane, which is a sacred bird in Japan, grants a wish to someone who folds one thousand paper cranes. After hearing this, Sadako immediately began folding cranes for her one wish: to get well again. Her health gradually deteriorated and Sadako began to wish instead for world peace, that children could live safe from the effects of wars. Sadly, she did not finish. When Sadako died in October of 1955, she had folded a total of 644 cranes. Her classmates folded the remaining cranes in time for her funeral. This tradition has continued and the paper crane has remained a symbol of peace for children around the world.”