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Shinnyo-en Foundation & Partner Orgs. Celebrate 2012’s International Day of Peace September 21, 2012

Each year on September 21, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world. The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared September 21st as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. All nations and people are encouraged to honor a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

Over the years, Shinnyo-en Foundation has funded various nonprofits and educational institutions whose missions promote peacemaking and who in one way or another celebrate and encourage peace.

This year, the Foundation features three groups of young people from across the United States: first graders from Minnesota, K-12 students from Oklahoma, and high school students from California. We invite you to read about how at each age they celebrate, think about and act in Peace.

Blake School First Graders, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Contributed by Nan Peterson, Zambie Franchot and Petra Johnson of Blake School

September 21st, the International Day of Peace, was celebrated by some of Blake School’s youngest students. Forty first grade children in two classes lead by teachers Zambie Franchot and Petra Johnson, read several books about peace and talked about what peace sounded like, felt like, and looked like to them. The students made peace pinwheels (see their photo) that represented the hope of peace. They viewed a YouTube video about Peace to help them understand the connection between global and individual peace.  Some students’ thoughts follow.

Peace to me is…..

the beautiful sky
wind in my hair
quiet time with family
time with friends
feeling safe and warm
sharing my toys and books
making up after an argument
the smell of warm cookies
the feel of snowflakes on my tongue
holding hands

Ms. Zambie Franchot, a Blake graduate as well as teacher, talked with students about the possibilities of an individual’s Paths to Peace and asked them the following questions:

How are we all connected?
What are ways we can make the world more peaceful for us all?
What is your Path to Peace?

Students made My Path to Peace posters and displayed them on the hallways of the school. Some examples were:

My Path to Peace is…..

to water the trees
to play with my baby brother
to clear the table after dinner
to share the markers
to visit my grandma
to make blankets for the homeless shelter
to make bird houses for the senior citizens
to share my books

Ms. Petra Johnson, a teacher with 15 years of Blake experience, observes that young children can begin to grasp the idea of peace in the context of friendship. She and her students talked about the importance of friendship and how friendship and peace are connected; caring, sharing, kindness, and joy are parts of friendship and parts of peace.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Contributed by Joan Korenblit and Carmen Clay of Casady School

On September 21, 2012, International Day of Peace, students throughout Oklahoma City participated in a variety of activities that culminated at the annual Oklahoma City University Multicultural Festival and a1,000 Pinwheels for Peace Garden sponsored by a diverse group of Oklahoma artists, educators, the Respect Diversity Foundation, and the Friends of the United Nations of Greater Oklahoma.

Students from Dove Academy at Oklahoma City University learned from activities facilitated by festival chairs, Mikel Ibarra, Joan Korenblit, and Japan America Society education coordinator Dr. Gigi Hu. After viewing and reflecting a short trailer on “Peace One Day” and “On a Paper Crane, Tomoko’s Adventure,” students made origami cranes for peace and wrote Haiku poetry. Before planting pinwheels made at their school, they walked through a peace labyrinth, learning about the importance of quiet meditation from Labyrinths in Oklahoma writer Gail Peck.

5pm on 9/21/2012, a dozen co-sponsoring organizations and a large drumming circle welcomed hundreds of participants to the Multicultural Festival. Participants in Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Six Billion Paths to Peace T-shirts enjoyed artists from a variety of ethnic traditions. The grand finale was a dance of peace with audience participation. Said author Michael Allen, “This festival and the many activities during the eleven days of unity, 9/11-9/21, happened because people of diverse cultures worked together and decided that we CAN make this a more peaceful world.”

From creating pinwheels for peace encouraging a global truce on violence, to participating in service-learning projects, thousands of Oklahoma students were immersed in dialog and action of a shared sustainable culture of peace, economic justice, and environmental stewardship from 9/11-9/21!

Oklahoma Centennial High School observed the shift from “I” to “WE” with curricular connections. “It was challenging and rewarding to collaborate with core teachers and administrators. My students created peace key chains, because they are the key to change, a “new green” cleaning product, and are currently finalizing their service-learning project reflection on how to make a real difference and impact the world in which they live” said Career and Technology instructor, Carrie Renfro.

Kindergarteners at Mercy School enjoyed a diversity story-teller and discussed what they learned. “We’re all different, just like the crayons in the story, and we’re all important!” exclaimed five year old Mohamed.

At Piedmont Middle School and Western Oaks Elementary School, students learned about the impact of choosing a path of kindness over bullying. Piedmont Art teacher Frances Williams explained, “From their discussion, it was obvious that this unit had a great impact on our students!” “This conversation is making an important difference; it will continue,” stated Western Oaks art teacher Staci Craven.

Click here to see the slide show of Oklahoma’s peace activities.

From K-12th grade, Casady students pledged their commitment to SEE PEACE in acts of kindness, service, and non-violence.Older students also viewed the video by Jeremy Gilley, PEACE ONE DAY before pinwheel making. Carmen Clay, Service-Learning Director, stated, “Students realized that this day is working because it is saving lives and creating a desire for intentionally kinder communities and a self-patrolling non-violent way of life.” Anne Josette Hill, Casady freshman, commented, “I personally befriended a former rival over a pile of half finished pinwheels.”  Primary Division Director, Mrs. Jane Sharp stated, “Dr. Montessori said, ” “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.” ” Every day our teachers are involved with this important work of peace by showing grace and courtesy to each other and to the children so that they may then show peace to others. We will be celebrating this important date every year with our youngest students here at Casady.” 

Youth Community Service at Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School, California
Contributed by Stacey Nitta of YCS

Hundreds of students came together on two days in October to celebrate International Day of Peace at Palo Alto High School and Gunn High Schools in Northern California. As students gathered during lunchtime to participate, you could overhear conversations about personal reflections of peace and watch students folding paper cranes.

 addition to the  crane making, students were able to read a summary of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, learn that a crane can be a symbol of world peace and fold their own paper crane.  With all of the excitement and enthusiasm, students were overheard saying, “How do you fold a crane?,” “Does anyone know what I do next?,” “Can you help me?”  There were also words of encouragement “you can fold it, you are almost done.” Students were enthusiastic to learn how to fold a paper crane, while other students were equally enthusiastic to show others how to fold cranes.

My Path to Peace is…

treating everyone fairly
helping the community
I want to see people of all colors, nationalities and creeds come together as one community
sing a song of praise once a day
working together to make our community a better place
respecting people
showing kindness to people who are rejected by society
to make my enemies my friends and to love and cherish the people around me
sharing laughter and smiling
sharing what I have with others
promoting education
promoting equality
following the golden
standing up for others
helping others understand peace
loving my friends and family
doing community service
staying in the present and not worrying all the time
being kind to everyone
being tolerant and understanding to all, not judging people, and taking an interest in different cultures
helping others and encourage kindness towards everyone
living in the moment
practicing forgiveness
dancing, it helps to calm my mind, body and soul
helping the community by doing community service
enjoying staying home with my family and the laughter I share with my family keeps me at peace
enjoying life
listening to peaceful music
smiling at strangers
saying something positive to someone
brightening people’s day
respecting one another, caring for each other and remembering to love

After folding the paper cranes and reflecting on their personal paths to peace, students received a Six Billion Paths to Peace tee-shirt provided by Shinnyo-en Foundation.

This is the third year that Youth Community Service has planned International Day of Peace in partnership with PAUSD high school and Shinnyo-en Foundation.  Youth Community Service, Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School are appreciative for the continued support of Shinnyo-en Foundation.