Walking through Red Square Monday, students could tell something was different. There was a calmer yet lively and peaceful atmosphere. Colorful chalk drawings covered the pathway, the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album could be heard, and brightly decorated pinwheels could be seen around the square among black and white graphic pictures of prominent peace figures.
Students were seen hula hooping and gathering around the middle of the square in the grass to hang out and talk in the spring-like weather. Despite the rainy forecast, the weather seemed to be a sign that the event was supposed to be a success.
On Monday September 21, the International Club, Environmental Actions Club, and Philosophy Club sponsored for the first time an information poster event in red square for the International Day of Peace. A discussion group followed at 6pm hosted by the Philosophy Club.
The International Day of Peace is held by the United Nations to celebrate peace around the world.
John Sullivan, senior and treasurer of the International Club and the Environmental Actions Club, said that “I think most people realized that there is a microcosm of students in our world that enjoy peace and the ripple effect it generates. Just a little chalk and Magical Mystery Tour brought out around 100 students.”
Lin Oo, senior and co-president of the International Club and president of the Philosophy Club explained that “As part of McDaniel College, we thought it would be appropriate to hold the event for the campus community.”
Oo said “We hoped that by showing to the world that there are prominent figures of peace out there in the world that it would resonate with our lives. We also wanted to highlight the correlation between resources scarcity, environmental degradation, and its correlation with conflict.”
The Environmental Actions Club helped with this aspect while the Philosophy Club and International Club focused on discussing peace and how to achieve it by listening to different views on peace, free speech, and other relevant issues at the evening discussion. About twenty students went to the discussion and three people stepped up to give three different views about peace. The students were encouraged to stand up on a chair in order to give their opinions freely.
The discussion included two main topics on the actuality of peace in the changing world. The first discussion was called “Transcend the Bullshit: Deactivate Your Facebook!” The second discussion included a “know your rights” session where students were able to ask two campus safety officers about the rights of students dealing with searches, drugs, alcohol and other issues.
In red square posters of figures such as John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Norman Ernest Borlaug, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Dalai Lama were shown with a brief summary of their life. There was also an information poster about environmental degradation. A table was also set up where students could decorate and make peace pinwheels and have some cookies and cake.
Oo said “In a sense the international day of peace tries to fulfill one of our liberal arts learning experience to be active members in a humane environment and to prepare ourselves to help towards building a community where dialogue is chosen over violence. We hope that as college students we would learn to value this diversity in opinion instead of being hostile towards it.”
Students who stopped by at the event in red square both enjoyed themselves and learned something. Kaitlyn Vadenais, a freshman who was at the event said “I loved the chalk drawings! I thought they were really well done.” She said “I love peace! I sent my friends texts saying ‘Happy International Peace Day!’ I was inspired by the event.”
Megan Rogers, a freshman, said “I thought it was awesome that a group of students came together to celebrate the occasion.” She enjoyed the chalk drawings and posters in red square most. “Both things caught my attention and from what I saw, others too.” She also learned about the mining of the mountains in Sierra Leone. “I knew that there were poor work conditions but I was never exposed to the destruction of the environment part.” Oo said that many students mentioned that they would like to see this type of event more in the future.
Sullivan said “The event was a huge success and I feel that everyone who helped out used their best smiles and laughs to make the event a great feat for the participating clubs.”
Oo said that “it’s all about how we all as members of civil society can strive to help towards a better future, whether we are in Westminster or in any part of the world. As club members we hoped to convey that message.”