Students gather to observe, promote international peace

Students gather for the International Day of Peace observance presented by ISCO and the International Arts Center.

Students gather for the International Day of Peace observance presented by ISCO and the International Arts Center.

Displaying flags from countries represented on the Troy Campus, Troy University students marched to the International Arts Center on Thursday night where they gathered to observe the United Nation’s International Day of Peace.

Established by the UN General Assembly in 1981, the International Day of Peace was created to strengthen the ideals of peace through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire throughout the world.

Thursday’s observance represented a collaborative effort between TROY’s International Student Cultural Organization (ISCO) and the International Arts Center.

“This International Day of Peace observance is an expression of Troy University’s pledge to be Alabama’s International University,” said Dr. Jay Valentine, ISCO advisor and faculty member in the Department of History and Philosophy. “It involves the coming together of students from around the state, around the country and around the world to uphold the flags of all nations in a symbolic act of peace.”

Students gathered on the Daniel Foundation of Alabama Plaza, surrounding the Peace Dove statue created by the artist Nall Hollis. Named Violata Pax, which translates to Wounded Peace, the dove, the symbol of peace, was created with one side of its head showing the scars and ravages of war.

“We are standing by Nall Hollis’ statue known as Violata Pax, which means Wounded Peace,” said Carrie Jaxon, Director and Curator of TROY’s International Arts Center. “I think it is very appropriate that we have this space to gather in to observe the International Day of Peace because this statue is representative of what we face in the world today. I look forward to collaborating with ISCO each year to hold this Peace Walk because I feel it is a beautiful expression of our collective desire for international peace. With more than 60 countries represented on our campus, it is such a wonderful gift to get to meet people from around the world.”

For Brianna Moore, ISCO President, the day holds a special place in her heart.

“This is a day where we celebrate our differences and accept each other for the flawed and beautiful humans that we are,” she said. “This day was established to remind us that we should strive for peace every day – peace within ourselves and peace with others. This year’s theme is Actions for Peace. This theme is a call to action that recognizes our individual and collective responsibilities to foster peace around the world. I believe for us to be able to act in the name of peace, we must first be aware. We must educate ourselves about the world we live in and why it is important to be catalysts for change and agents for peace. Educate yourself and you will see that the fight for peace doesn’t just occur on the International Day of Peace. The fight for peace is an ongoing battle.”

Students marched bearing flags of countries represented at the Troy Campus from Trojan Dining to the Daniel Foundation of Alabama Plaza behind the International Arts Center.

Sara Quiceno, a TROY student from Colombia, said peace can often be taken for granted for those who do not live in parts of the world where violence is a regular occurrence.

“As someone who comes from a place where violence is common and danger is everywhere, I have experienced what it is like to live in a place where there is no peace,” Quiceno said. “Peace is sometimes taken for granted, especially when we can wake up every morning go to class, get breakfast, meet with our friends, when people around the world may not have those same privileges. Peace starts with a small gesture, a small action that you put out into the world that can make someone’s day so much brighter. We are at an age where we can make a change. We are the future of our society, so it is important to be reminded that peace starts with us. If we do not make a change, who will?”

Jumin Kim, a TROY student from South Korea, urged the students gathered to take action to promote peace.

“I urge you to act. Take action within your current position and with the resources you have,” he said. “Contributing to peace is an achievable goal. Start within your family, your community, society and then country. By recognizing and empathizing with the suffering of others and extending a helping hand, you can make a difference. Just look around and find ways to assist others. By doing so, you are volunteering to make a meaningful contribution to true peace. Great contributions to peace can begin with you.”

The event concluded with the singing of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” performed by Quinton Cockrell, Associate Professor and Assistant Chair of Theatre and Dance.

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