peace day rock
The Peace Studies department celebrated International Peace Day with a social media campaign, paper crane-making and a donation drive for Afghan refugees.
Photo provided by Virginia Rendler

Peace Studies Hosts Activities for 2021 Peace Day

Wyatt Gatewood

Manchester University was on full go for International Peace Day on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. International Peace Day is also known as the International Day of Prayer for Peace. This day was established in the United Nations in 1981 and the day serves as an opportunity for Peace Studies, Religious Life, Student Life, and even for the community to come together to encourage nonviolence.

“Peace Day is meaningful to us at Manchester because it connects us to a larger community of people committed to considering nonviolence as a legitimate lifestyle or strategy, ” said Virginia Rendler, peace studies coordinator. “The United Nations recognizes this day, as well as many churches across the world. Participating in events like these remind us of our place in a larger community of peacemakers.”

In 2001, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted to designate Peace Day as a period of nonviolence and ceasefire. The day begins when the UN rings a Peace Bell at its headquarters in New York City. This bell is sculpted by coins that have been donated by children from all of the continents (excluding Africa). These coins were a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan and are supposed to serve as a reminder of the human cost of war. There is also an engraving on both sides of the bell that reads “Long live absolute world peace.”

To honor Peace Day at Manchester, the rock in front of the Academic/Cunningham Center was painted black, with red, yellow and blue handprints and peace. “Painting the rock is always a great way to promote events on campus,” Rendler said. “Even the process of painting it allows people who walk by to stop and ask about your event, and it’s visible even to people driving through. Kendall Brown, Olivia Flores and I painted it the Friday beforehand, and it’s always fun to get messy with painted handprints!”

Students were encouraged to take pictures with the rock and post a picture of themselves in order to participate in the media campaign/Peace Pole that was taking place. These students had to use the #NMPeaceDay2021 to be a part of the media campaign. “Our social media campaign was successful,” Rendler said. “We got quite a few photos of people with Peace Poles on campus. We gave out prizes for participating –– mini Peace Poles!

Along with Student Life and Religious Life peace studies representatives tabled at lunch in the Jo Young Switzer Center and handed out some DIY paper crane kits for the students to complete. “Tabling in the JYSC allows us to connect with students on campus no matter their major,” Rendler said.

“The DIY paper crane kits are an opportunity for people to take a moment of quiet focus in their day to sit with a small, meditative project,” she continued, “and the product is a symbol of peace around the world.”

During the evening at Manchester there was a Peace Day themed chapel service, and there was also a Simply Brethren meeting that took place. There was supposed to be a service project that was going to consist of weeding and cleaning up the Prayer Labyrinth. This service project had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather that took place on Sept. 21. The project was rescheduled for Oct. 3 and is now part of the Manchester Church of Brethren all-church service day.

In addition to the service project, one of the last things that was taking place on International Peace Day at Manchester college is that there was/is a donation drive for over 6,000 Afghan refugees that are living at Camp Atterbury located in south-central Indiana. This donation drive is an ongoing campaign and people are still able to donate items if they want or are able to.

Rendler’s favorite part of Peace Day was the Afghanistan donation drive. “It is ongoing, but kicking it off that day felt like a fitting way to recognize Peace Day with direct relief, ” she said. “If anyone would like to donate, they can bring items to the Peace Studies Lounge (ACEN/Cunningham 241)!”