Speech in Kobe, Japan

Samantha Smith

"Look Around and See Only Friends"

Kobe, Japan

December 26, 1983 

Samantha in Kobe


On December 26, 1983, as a young spokesperson for peace, Samantha addressed the Children’s Symposium on the Year 2001 held in Kobe, Japan.  


"I have to begin with an apology.  My father helped me with my speech and look  -- I discovered that he doesn’t know a single word of Japanese!

Luckily, I have learned some of your language.  Since I got here, I have been trying to learn as much as possible.  So let me begin by saying Nihon no minasan Konnichiwa (Hello Everybody in Japan).

        . . .     Until last April, I had never traveled outside the eastern United States, I had never even heard of sushi!

Then, because I had written a letter to Yuri Andropov, I found myself In Moscow, Leningrad, and at a beautiful camp on the Black Sea near Yalta.  I was on airplanes that took me over many foreign countries.  After my trip to Russia  -- which actually should be called the Soviet Union –- I came back to the same school and the same teachers and the same kids in Manchester, Maine.  I didn’t think I had changed at all, but, boy, had they changed!   . . .

But, today, we are not here to look back on the summer or to look backward at all.  We are here to look ahead.  I spent the last several weeks picturing myself in the Year 2001, and thought of all the things that I would like the world to be eighteen years from today.

First of all, I don’t want to have these freckles anymore, and I want this tooth straightened, and I hope I like the idea of being almost thirty.  Maybe it’s because I have traveled a lot and maybe it’s because I’ve met so many wonderful people who look a little different from the way I look – maybe their skin, or their eyes, or their language is not like mine – but I can picture them becoming my best friends. . .   Maybe it’s because of these things that I think the year 2001 and the years that follow are going to be just great.    . . .

What I wish for is something I’ll call the International Granddaughter Exchange.  I guess if I were a boy, I’d call it the International Grandson Exchange.  But I’m not a boy, so I’ll stick with granddaughter.  The International Granddaughter Exchange would have the highest political leaders in nations all over the world sending their granddaughters or nieces – (or, okay, grandsons and nephews) –- to live with families of opposite nations.  Soviet leaders’ granddaughters would spend two weeks in America.  American leaders’ granddaughters would spend two weeks in the Soviet Union.  And, wherever possible, granddaughters of other opposing countries would exchange visits and we would have better understanding all over the world.

And now I will try my wish in Japanese: Sekaiju ni heiwa ga kimasu yo mi (I wish for the world peace and understanding).

Last summer, I had the amazing chance to visit the beautiful and awesome Soviet Union.  I loved making friends with those girls and boys, and I think they enjoyed meeting an American kid.  Let’s keep doing it!  Let’s find a way to get some of those girls and boys to visit Japan, and America, and China, and Peru.  And let’s find a way for you to visit Soviet kids and American kids, kids who can’t speak a word of Japanese –- even kids who drive in American cars.

If we start with an International Granddaughter Exchange and keep expanding it and expanding it, then the year 2001 can be the year when all of us can look around and see only friends, no opposite nations, no enemies, and no bombs.

My grandparents are not important political leaders.  In fact, one grandfather of mine was a doctor and one is a retired minister.  But I’ve had the privilege of being an international granddaughter, and let me tell you that it is one terrific experience.   . . .

My father, who is back in Maine, didn’t help with the end of my speech, so he’ll probably be surprised when I say, Why don’t you all come back home with me and meet my friends there!

Thank you for your attention.  Domo arigato gozai mashita."

Note: This is a slightly edited version of the speech as found in the book "In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century" by Andrew CarrollRobert TorricelliDoris Kearns Goodwin 

This speech can also be found in "The Book of Great American Speeches for Young People" edited by Suzanne McIntire.

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