Chapter 4 Peace Pilgrimage as Transformative Learning and Identity Redefinition

In: Pilgrimage as Transformative Process
Roy Tamashiro
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In this autoethnographic study, I explore the association between peace pilgrimages and the inner journey to understand purpose, identity and community. Autoethnography and oral history are valuable research tools for understanding the subjective meaning-making processes in their socio-psychological and historical contexts. These tools help to understand and contextualize the genesis, the call to pilgrimage, and the learning and changes while on pilgrimage and upon return from pilgrimage. The year 2015 was the seventieth anniversary of the first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This same year (2015) was the fiftieth anniversary of my first visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Only now, 50 years later, am I able to unlock previously-suppressed memories of what I experienced then, including the realization of a life-long identity as an unacknowledged peace pilgrim. My 1965 Hiroshima experience is interpreted as the start of a life-long and recursive transformative learning experience leading to the present Coming-Full-Circle Pilgrimage, which commenced in July 2015. The stages of transformative learning include: experiencing a disorienting dilemma, followed by a deconstruction of one’s identity, worldview and ways of thinking; a reframing of thinking; and a new integration and shift in consciousness that can inspire transformative learning in others. In my case, embarking on a peace pilgrimage followed previously processed transformative learning experiences. Other peace pilgrim oral history accounts depict transformative learning experiences that inspired and motived the pilgrimages. Significant transformative learning can also occur while on pilgrimage or following pilgrimage, as illustrated in peace pilgrim narratives.

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