Members of the Brookdale Educational Opportunity Fund’s (EOF) Rising Leaders Academy joined with representatives from the Asia Society and Gateway to Japan on Sept. 21 to hold a college-wide rally for peace in the Student Life Center.
The event, held on this year’s International Day of Peace, featured a wide range of activities, information booths and prize raffles designed to educate community members about ongoing global peace initiatives and enlist them in a world-wide effort to enact social change.
“A couple of years ago, the United Nations agreed on 17 global goals that they want for the world,” said Rising Leaders member Austin Santana-Simmons.
“They include things like ending hunger, promoting quality education, gender equality and climate action. This year, the UN is asking people to take steps in their own lives and their communities to achieve those goals, and that’s part of what we’re promoting today. We’re asking people to make a pledge to do something for the world.”
Attendees were encouraged to select one of the UN’s goals and commit to supporting it in their day-to-day lives, either by donating time or goods or trying to raise awareness in their own communities. Brookdalians were also invited to create a custom, origami “peace cranes” at a crafts table hosted by members of each club.
The small cranes, adorned with a variety of salutations and motivational phrases, will be mailed to residents of Mexico as part of a global “peace crane” exchange in the coming weeks.
“Countries across the world will receive them and send them on to other nations, kind of like an international swap,” said Santana-Simmons. “Today we are trying to focus on peace and equality, and acknowledge that we are all here under the same sun.”
Attendees could also enter a prize raffle for a book on peace cranes, or take group photos with the college’s new Peace Pole.
The pole – a hand-crafted, six-foot-tall monument bearing the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in multiple languages – was created for the college this year by the internationally recognized Peace Pole Project. Today there are tens of thousands of peace poles in more than 180 countries across the globe.
“The pole, much like today’s event, is a reminder that we are all connected and that our actions really can have an impact beyond ourselves,” said EOF associate and Rising Leaders Academy advisor Catherine Cutlip, who joined the students in holding a moment of silence at the peace pole at noon on Sept. 21.
“We do a lot of work locally and across the state each year, and we felt that this year we should begin the semester by focusing on the global perspective. It’s that idea of, ‘What is your role in the system?’ Whatever you do is going to have ripple effects across the world, especially now that we are all so globally connected… It’s not all about governments and big organizations. It’s about what you can do, personally, to make things better.”
The Rising Leaders Academy, established at Brookdale in 2015, provides a select group of students the opportunity to perform valuable community service and advocacy work while completing a comprehensive leadership training program throughout their time at Brookdale. Rising Leaders members also receive financial compensation in the form of Federal Work Study fund. Learn more about the program here.
Click here to learn more about Brookdale’s EOF program.
Check out more photos of the International Day of Peace event here.