Students and faculty painted fence posts dedicated to an international celebration of peace.
Students and faculty came together last week to celebrate the merging of the International Students Services and the Center for Global Education by participating in the Peace Pole Project. The Peace Pole Project tradition originated in Japan in the 1950s. Masahisa Goi, a man who was affected by the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, inspired the project. His message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” remains the motto of the international movement to this day. Peace Poles are now located in every country, encouraging people to foster peace by transcending differences and celebrating commonalities.
Jane Kucko, Vice Provost for Global Education at TU, read about the project three years ago, but the new Center for Global Education gave her the perfect opportunity to jumpstart the project. Dr. Kucko, with the help of Morgan Hopson, a Global Education Advisor in CGE, brought the movement to the university’s campus just in time for International Peace Day on Sept. 21. Student volunteers helped run tables by the side entrance of the Student Union between Sept. 16-19, inviting members of the TU community to pick up a paint brush and express what reminds them of or inspires peace within themselves.
By the end of Thursday, the wooden poles were filled with various pictures and phrases that evoked a sense of peace for students and faculty across campus. The end result was a stunning series of vibrant peace poles that were presented in a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 20.
It may have been raining on Friday, but that didn’t prevent people from coming together at the Peace Pole Presentation. The poles all stood tall in Hurricane Plaza as presentation began with a moment of silence in recognition of International Peace Day. TU junior Paris Clark shared some words on her understanding of peace and wonderful experiences with international students. Clark began her thoughts with her idea of peace. “The underlying base of peace is respect,” she stated. Respect allows people to develop sincere relationships. Clark also encouraged domestic students to step up and start a conversation, because every student, domestic or international, has the ability to connect through their stories.
Following the event, the peace poles will be taken to an alumni event so they too can take part in the Peace Pole Project. Dr. Kucko said that students also suggested that the poles then either be auctioned off or given to United Way, a non-profit organization that has a global reach. Looking forward, Dr. Kucko plans to make this an annual event, and although this year the event may have been small, it was one step toward making a larger impact.