How about a day for peace?

Actor turned filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day after realizing that there was no starting point for peace, no day of global unity, no day for intercultural cooperation, and no day for when humanity came together. Gilley felt that if we united as one then that might be the key to humanity’s survival. He started his advocacy for his Peace Day by writing letters to every state leader, their ambassadors, Nobel peace laureates, NGOs, faith based organizations, and other various organizations. Then in 1999 his dream of Peace One Day came true. In 1999 all the member states of the United Nations adopted the 21st of September as Peace Day. This day is recognized as an annual global ceasefire and non-violence day.

Jeremy Gilley’s Peace One Day is recognized every year, but unfortunately the day hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves. Gilley was to make a statement with Kofi Annan on September 11, 2001 to advocate for his event, but because of the attack on the World Trade Center the statement never happened. However, the events on September 11, 2001 made Gilley work even harder. He was even more empowered and inspired to move forward with Peace One Day. This led to Gilley, along with actor Jude Law, to start work for peace in Afghanistan. Because of the pair advocating for Peace Day the Taliban sent him letter and said they would observe the day, and not engage in violence. The Taliban doing this led to 1.6 million people vaccinated for polio and violence on that day was down by 70%.

Due to this success Gilley has initiated a new plan for 2012, a Global Truce Day. This day will show younger generations that we can make a stop to violence with small acts of non-violence in our everyday lives. Gilley wants to utilize all kinds of resources from dance to social media and globally network with government, intergovernmental, and education leaders.

Gilley’s idea of utilizing education into his plan for 2012’s Global Truce Day helped persuade me to write this blog post about his event. Gilley wants to get young people to be the driving force to inspire individual action, so he has complied an educational resource for teachers to implement non-violence and other peace concepts into the classroom.

I can see this educational resource implemented in almost every formal grade level classroom. The students would need a little background on what conflict is, so because of this, starting at the fourth or fifth grade level would probably be best. However, this could fluctuate determined on how the students are influenced by conflict in their everyday lives. By implementing these resources in a classroom setting these children can practice non-violence in their schools, and also bring what they learn outside of the school setting and teach others.

Ways to use this resource:
Gilley includes many different types of lessons in his educational resource. This comprehensive resource includes 21 one-hour lesson plans for exploring issues of peace, nonviolence, and the protection of the environment, with extended projects for Peace Day on September 21st. I think this resource would be best integrated by first starting with showing Gilley’s documentary for one day of class, doing the lesson that corresponds to that, then moving on to the individual lessons maybe once a month until the actual Peace Day on the 21st. The students could help plan how they want their school to recognize and celebrate the event. In addition to using Gilley’s lesson plans I think it would be important for each teacher to incorporate their own discussion in their classrooms on non-violence, and other peace education areas. This would help each individual classroom relate to what types of conflict are going on in their societies.

The goal of each lesson, whether it be with Gilley’s lesson plans or the teacher’s, would be to spread knowledge about ways to bring about peace in small ways. These can be from their knowledge on non-violence to their knowledge of eco-resolution. Each lesson will more than likely encourage a student to go out and spread what they learned to another, and therefore spread the movement of peace.

“We should oppose violence in all situations and of course there’s no better way of bringing that about than through the power of education.”-Jeremy Gilley

Resources:
Peace One Day website: http://peaceoneday.org/
Peace One Day’s educational resources: http://peaceoneday.org/teachers/

The 2011/2012 Peace Exchange and Other Peaceful Art Projects

The Create Peace Project is a San Francisco-based non-profit that uses art and creative expression to help create more peaceful schools and give students a creative outlet and teach them peacebuilding skills.

For the third year in a row, The Create Peace Project is engaging in “The Peace Exchange”, a program that allows students from the US and Canada to exchange messages of peace with students in Ghana, Colombia, and Nepal. Students write notes and draw pictures on special post cards, and The Create Peace Project delivers the messages to partner students around the world and returns with messages from those students. Download a flyer!

From the Create Peace Project website:

“The Peace Exchange is about connection. Connecting students to themselves, their creativity, their wisdom, and their heart. Connecting students to each other, in their classrooms, in their schools, and across continents as we bridge cultural, religious, and racial boundaries to inspire and enrich the lives of all participants.

The Peace Exchange gives students a platform from which to raise their voice for peace, acknowledge and honor each other, express themselves through their art and with words with the intention that the power of being peaceful and sharing ones self with another can create a ripple of kindness, love, and possibility felt by young people around the world.”

This project is tailored toward students age 8-18, and can be integrated into a formal school setting on a class-by-class basis or through a school-wide assembly. Resources for both options are available from The Create Peace Project. The exchange allows students to participate in something national and international and creates the space for local and international dialogue about peace.

For smaller groups or informal settings The Create Peace Project has other art options available:

Banners for Peace is a collaborative painting workshop that promotes team building and collaboration through a 10-week workshop that works on the creation of a unique, giant piece of art that is later displayed in a communal area. Beyond building art skills and learning to work as a team, participants have a chance to design something that can inspire peace and create a space for peace dialogue. Download a Flyer!

For a shorter-term project or a more diverse group of participants, check out the Collaborate and Create workshop, a one-day activity that allows participants to bring together objects and art supplies to create a collection of art work through collaborative creative games and activities. One great thing about this project is that it can be tailored to include as more or less emphasis on emotional expression and community building depending on the venue or event.

These resources help to build community and nurture emotional intelligence, allowing participants to express their feelings and ideas in a safe and welcoming space and explore the meanings of peace in a community setting.

Get your school involved! Or for more information contact: info@createpeaceproject.org

Let’s talk about peace and possibly get rewarded for it: National Peace Essay Contest for High School Students

The National Peace Essay Contest for high school students sponsored by the The Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, the education and training sector of the United States Institute of Peace, is a way to incentivize high school educators and students to include peace talks as part of curriculum especially for history, government and social studies content areas. According to the institute the goal of the contest is to “promote serious discussion among high school students, teachers, and national leaders about international peace and conflict resolution today and in the future.”

The incentives for educators include the fact that the activity complements existing curricula and other scholastic activities and meets National Contents Standards, which is the direction that most school districts, including the District of Columbia is heading in. Students’ incentives include skill building in the areas of research, writing, and reasoning skills. Additionally, first place state winners receive scholarships and are invited to Washington for a five-day awards program. The Institute pays for expenses related to the program, including travel, lodging, meals and entertainment. This unique five-day program promotes an understanding of the nature and process of international peacemaking by focusing on a region and/or theme related to the current essay contest.

Educators can incorporate this contest as part of a reframing history activity by having students analyze past national or world conflicts and reevaluate outcomes applying the concepts of peace studies such as exploring approaches to peace and how those past violent conflicts could have been transformed non-violently. Students will be exposed to a different way to view conflict in the world and begin to generate ideas about how to resolve those conflicts while maintaining peace, justice, human rights and security in the world, as well as begin to examine what their personal roles are as global citizens in the effort for peace.

Check out contest information at: http://www.usip.org/npec

Happy United Nations Day!

Tomorrow marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and a day that we take time to look at the work of this important organization and talk about its impact on the world.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2010: “UN Day is a day on which we resolve to do more. More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals.””

No matter what age group, or what subject matter, a discussion of one of the Millennium Development Goals, can be integrated into class today. Younger grades may enjoy learning about what education looks like in other parts of the world for kids like them. Science and health classes can tackle child health, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Economics, government/civics classes, and other social sciences may find global partnership and gender equity fitting themes for discussion. Some groups may want to find ways to live more sustainable lives or help end hunger. Find out how close we are to reaching these goals and what you/your students can do to help. Use a video/interactive media resource to add a new twist to your lesson!

Check out tomorrow’s ongoing events at the UN and promotional materials on the live webcast.

See how the UN is participating in New York City Public Schools and find examples of resources to use with high school students.

For a holiday themed addition, transform Halloween into a time to give back: check out Trick or Treat for UNICEF to learn about the campaign and see how you can incorporate donation boxes into your school or neighborhood’s celebration.

For other education resources from the UN to incorporate tomorrow and year-round check out the cyber school bus!

These resources and activities designed to recognize this day and this institution can help to build community by creating common goals for the class to work for and think about through class-wide, school-wide, or community-wide projects. A look at the UN can also help students explore approaches to peace by recognizing the physical, structural, and cultural violence that exists in the world, and highlighting the global community’s efforts to eradicate that violence.

Peace Week 2011

Peace Week 2011 is a free global telesummit that involves “an extraordinary week of presentations, forums, music, art and reflection on the prospects of creating a sustainable culture of peace.”  There are 52 peacebuilders who will be speaking throughout the week.  I learned about this event from one of the people I follow on Twitter.  Upon opening up the website and learning more about the program, I immediately signed up to participate.

I find this to be a great peace education resource to bring into classrooms because its an opportunity to expose students to a global network of peacebuilders working in a variety of fields.  I think its most appropriate for high school, under grad, or graduate students, as I assume from the topics being covered, that the different sessions are somewhat advanced and would require some background in peace studies to fully appreciate or grasp the subject matter.  Given the large amount of presentations and the week-long schedule, I think this program could be incorporated into either formal or nonformal educational settings.

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