Aashna Aggarwal (India, UWCSEA 2010-2012), Lakshmi Krishnakumar (India, UWCSEA 2010-2012), Sanya Mansoor (Kashmir, UWCSEA 2010-2012) and Itamar Carillo (Mexico, UWCSEA 2011-2013)
Jeremy Gilley:a man who grasped the very notion of peace and channelled it into an unstoppable force: an actor turned filmmaker, founded Peace One Day in 1999. Now, December 21st is annually celebrated as a global recognition of peace. It is observed all around the world with over a million participants. Peace One Day is a day for wide-scale community action, and a day for UN agencies and aid organisations to safely carry out life-saving work.
So what was going on in UWCSEA in Singapore? Because our school is so diverse in nature, synthesizing the dozens of languages, skin tones, cultures, traditions and beliefs is an escapade by itself. There is an inbuilt sense of awareness in terms of conflict and resolution – there is a common desire for peace. Peace One Day spoke to all of us and meant something to each of the different faces under one wet roof. To know we were all celebrating one message made everything all the more special and helped our understanding of why, where and how.
The Initiative For Peace team, spearheaded by Adam Mertens, initiated a series of activities to involve the entire college. We made sure everyone was aware of Gilley’s petition for Global Truce. One simple online signature was enough to contribute towards a cause calling for a day of ceasefire and non-violence observed by all sectors of society globally. A ticker at the bottom of the page updated every few seconds with a new name, a new face mapping a location from every corner of the globe. Each second, a new signature, a new commitment.
The Tent displayed a giant banner, covered with the handprints of the college community. Upon completion the banner was covered with a splash of blue, red and green handprints and names. Over at the astroturf, football unified an enthusiastic crowd of multicultural students. An abundance of hand-written letters were sent to the government of Nicaragua pertaining to the injustice of the rape of hundreds of girls. The victims are predominantly girls, with two thirds of the victims under the age of seventeen, an age-group not too different to many students of the college.
A spontaneous flash mob arrived in the middle of lunch, singing and dancing to songs of peace (the last being John Lennon’s classic, Imagine.) With their bod swaying, their arms around each other and hearts beating, the students all embraced a strong sense of community in the name of peace. Many students got together to dance some songs and created a great atmosphere; a lot of people, guided by the familiar songs, came around the initial participants and started to dance with them. Finally everybody sang “Imagine”, we took our shoulders and slowly we moved from one side to another. It means more than only sign; it means the unification of people, of cultures, of nations. If we can do it, Why powerful people, the people who have money and power, not?
Every student in high school was encouraged to write a letter to the government of Nicargua pleading for the rights of young women. A conflict supported by Amnesty International, women in Nicargua are being raped and nothing is being done to help them. By writing such letters, students got a first-hand experience with peace, and how even small actions make a small significance, somewhere in the world.
One of the many occasions celebrated by our school, Peace One Day in no way
– United Words –