4/20/2014 2:25:23 PM

Promoting Peace

Monday, September 26, 2011

By Eric Guzman '12

Members of the Siena Community joined together to raise awareness about the violent struggles plaguing people across the world during "Peace Week."  The College's Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, which promotes tolerance and equality among all people, hosted several events designed to spark thought and encourage dialogue.

“The number of innocent people that lose lives because of politics and fighting is unbelievable," said  Damietta Cross-Cultural Center Assistant Director Christa Grant.

The week began with a showing of the film God Grew Tired of Us. It is the story of John Dau, one of the 27,000 Sudanese refugees who were forced to flee from their homes in 1987. These refugees battled starvation, disease and violence as they traveled a thousand miles across Sudan to refugee camps. Dau talked with members of the Siena community about the lessons he learned living as a refugee.

“Even if you are put in a tough situation, you have to continue to keep going,” explained Dau. “Struggle and success come together in a package.” Despite his troubled past, Dau spoke about maintaining good spirits, “You cannot hate your enemies. If each side is going to hold a grudge, then you cannot build peace.”

In 2001, Catholic Charities International helped Dau immigrate to the United States and settle in Syracuse, New York. Since his move, Dau has earned a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and began the John Dau Foundation, an organization that raises money to fund a medical clinic in his home village of Duk. Dau has also co-authored two books and is now a well-known speaker and human rights activist for the people of South Sudan.

Peace Week continued as the campus celebrated International Day of Peace on September 21. Students, faculty, and administrators created “Peace Postcards” that filled the Sarazen Student Union with words of hope and love. The day concluded with an interfaith prayer for peace led by Associate Dean of Students Joy Galarneau.

“In an effort to honor diversity in our world, it is important to embrace many different traditions,” said Galarneau. The service included prayers from Native American, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions.

Friday marked the end of Peace Week 2011 with a Peace Pledge and concert. The event enabled members of the Siena community to gather together and pledge a commitment to peace. In addition to a fair trade chocolate tasting hosted by the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, students and faculty participated in peace-related performances.

“The performances were very inspiring," said Paige Maccabee '13 "It was a great way to sum up the message of the week and see the Siena Community come together for a common cause."

In a world constantly exposed to acts of violence, participants agreed that they were proud to participate in events that increase awareness and promote peace.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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