Friday, September 15, 2017
Tillman Chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations, under the loving stewardship of Rev. Dionne Boissiere for the United Methodist Women, once again hosted a day honoring the United Nations International Day of Peace. Multiple events with a sacred slant took place on Friday, September 15th, beginning with the U.N. webcast of the Secretary-General ringing the Peace Bell at 9:30 a.m.
The World Peace Prayer Society partnered this year with Children of the Earth, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and UNITE, organizations that arranged for a busload of 48 refugee students to attend the United Nations International Day of Peace student observance. Many of these young people from various countries were working for peace in different ways, so we offered to create a program together that would showcase the youth projects and then let the youth lead a World Peace Flag Ceremony.
The program, called “Together for Peace,” was directed by Heidi Tappan. It began with a warm greeting from Rev. Dionne, acknowledging all the programs that day celebrating the International Day of Peace at Tillman Chapel. Diverse students from the UNITE program introduced their impressive projects for human rights, environmental sustainability, youth art, and combatting discrimination, all illustrated by PowerPoint slides. The student presentations were as follows:
- Pabitra Bhattarai with her experience with Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program as a refugee;
- Aden Haji with his program Building Blocks to Success at the Boys and Girls Club in Burlington.
- Sam Cowles with his version of the Climate Reality’s 100% committed campaign and I AM PRO SNOW to combat climate change in the ski communities of Vermont;
- Olivia LaPierre and her role as an ambassador for Be Zero, a zero-waste organization and role as the chair of the Hartford Committee on Racial Inequity to address racism in environmental activism;
- Victoria Los talking about their group, UNITE;
- Audrey Grant and Zymora Davinchi with their photography project, POC: Power of Color, where they share the stories and beauty of people of color in Vermont.
Those in the audience asked questions and expressed their admiration and encouragement.
The refugee group then presented a dynamic video called “The Change,” made by students, that invited us all to share in Peace, Connection, and Love.
Refugee students from different countries rose to say, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in their native languages.
It was then time for the World Peace Flag Ceremony, which the young people introduced and implemented. Brandon Perdomo, WPPS UN Youth Representative, provided flute accompaniment, while UN Rep Deborah Moldow helped with the country names. The flags were handed to the students with care by Akiko Imaizumi and Reiko Kamozawa. Everyone present prayed for every country in the United Nations, and Deborah was introduced thank everyone and to close the ceremony by presenting the flag of the United Nations.
The group organizer, Laurie Stavrand of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, said, “Thank you so much for all of your help in putting together this event and for all of the work you have done. Our students had a wonderful time and we look forward to working with you again.” Next year, we hope to put this group together with another student group for a lively exchange of peace projects and another beautiful World Peace Flag Ceremony.