The United Nations hosted its annual Student Observance of the International Day of Peace honoring the message of the TOGETHER campaign – safety and dignity for all. The event began with an outdoor moment of silence with a ceremonial ringing of the garden’s bell by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which was complimented by a display of nations flags, compliments of the World Peace Prayer Society, held with pride by an international array of students. Honorable guests including S.G. Guterres and Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake then filed into Conference Room 4, welcoming valuable discussions of the Sustainable Development Goals, and hope for a diplomatic future amongst nations, including their leaders and their people. Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall offered a stunning testimony to the power of small grassroots efforts in addressing political voices including the pressing issue of our disruption of natural life and the impacts of our collective actions on the climate.
Students presented their own projects to address global issues. From Mater Day (New Jersey) school’s online tool kit to pursue peace in education, to Roots and Shoots, to the international Peace Crane Project, the passionate testimonies of the youth flooded the room with hope and a sense of forward-‐motion toward a progressive global community. Musical guests (Omnia and Leila) Hegazy gifted attendees with stunning harmonies to original songs of belonging, home, and strength rooted in shared humanity.
We were joined via camera with the United Nations HQ in Bogota, Colombia, who offered stories of peace efforts within the country in the aftermath of a generation-‐long civil war. Refugee students Saja Almogalli and Wendo Mbilizi presented personal stories of perseverance through struggle, change, and cultural boundaries. They then presented the peace bell, created from melted weapons of war, courtesy of the World Peace Prayer Society, which was rung, followed by a moment of silence, during which time the message “MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH” was present on the screens visible to the world.
Following this conference, members of the World Peace Prayer Society, Civil Society, and students filled the United Nations Church Center for even more presentations by youth of Vermont, who gathered under an image with the message “Vermont Youth UNITE Together For Peace.” Presentations centered on racial violence and prejudice visible and invisible in our modern world. The youth then facilitated a World Peace Flag Ceremony alongside Rev. Deborah Moldow with use of the flags provided by the World Peace Prayer Society. Youth Representative to the United Nations Brandon Perdomo played variations of the uplifting theme of “Chariots of Fire,” as attendees including members of the NGO community raised their flags in unity for wishes of global peace and harmony.