15 October 2015

Aspiring Towards a More Peaceful World: Reflections from students on the International Day of Peace












The International Day of Peace is commemorated each year on 21 September 2015. The theme this year was "Partnerships for Peace - Dignity For All". Over 700 students gathered this year at UN Headquarters in New York as part of a Global Student Videoconference. Learn more about the conference from students studying at East Stroudsburg South High School and their Adviser, Michael Healey below.

The United Nations Academic Impact ASPIRE chapter of East Stroudsburg South High School attended the celebration of the International Day of Peace marked by a Youth Conference and Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters on September 21st. The students have returned to their community, inspired to put words into action to promote peace and affect change towards an inclusive and respectful global community for all of Earth’s inhabitants. The following are ASPIRE student members’ reflections and plans for the promotion of peace in our local and global community.

Michael Healey, Adviser, UNAI ASPIRE chapter, East Stoudsberg South High School

Miriam Bouchekouk

The International Day of Peace Conference was an experience that I was so honored to have had the opportunity to attend. Throughout the entire day I felt as if I had traveled the world and back. I was able to participate as a flag bearer in a private ceremony for the ringing of the Peace Bell, where I had the distinct privilege to represent my family’s country of heritage, Algeria. On the flag, there was a message that read, “May Peace Prevail In Algeria” and I was inspired to see the determination that the United Nations has to make this world a peaceful place. By affecting change in my local community through grassroots activism, community service, and raising awareness on issues close to me, I can contribute to the achievement peace.

Claire Collins

Attending the International Day of Peace at the United Nations, on September 21, 2015 was an event I will never forget.  As this was my first time at the United Nations there was so much rich history and past events to reflect upon.  From the beautiful campus, to being a flag bearer in the Peace Bell Ceremony, it was all memorable.  Having the opportunity to listen to agents of change such as Dr. Jane Goodall, Michael Douglas, Yo-Yo Ma, Herbie Hancock, and many more was extremely inspiring. International Day of Peace showed me how big the world is and how many ways there are to spread peace.  I realized that as a part of today’s youth, I need to step up, recognize my responsibilities, and affect change. Returning to my school and community, I have an obligation to empower others to step forward and do great things.       

Kristen Pose

My name is Kristen Pose, and I can say without a doubt that spending the International Day of Peace at the United Nations was an incredible experience that greatly impacted me. Living day after day presented with horrific news of hate and ignorance in the world, it's all too easy to see the mission towards world peace as impractical, worth neither our time nor our effort. Our world's conflicts stem from countless interrelated factors that are so embedded in each other, bundling and bundling and creating a giant mess of problems with no visible beginning or end. It's virtually impossible to solve the problem by pinpointing any singular "enemy," and this makes the idea feel less real. Being at the United Nations that day, witnessing people of all backgrounds, and arts of all meanings, made the idea of world peace feel more tangible to me. It left me with a visceral feeling I cannot fully explain, one that told me world peace was not only attainable, but also worthwhile.

Yacine Tom Wing

The International Day of Peace is observed worldwide and to have had the opportunity to be at the United Nations attending this prestigious event, I left with a newfound understanding of culture and the universality of peace. I am a first generation American with parents originally from the Caribbean. I was invited along with my high school group United Nations Academic Impact ASPIRE of East Stroudsburg South High School.  One of our main objectives is to promote local and international community service. After attending the International Day of Peace, I was able to grasp the concept of peace in new ways that I never imagined and also learned of strategies to take home to my local community; ideas to spark change for the better. Hearing from notable Ambassadors of Peace such as Dr. Jane Goodall and Michael Douglass I was enlightened by how peace goes beyond mankind, it extends to the environment, and it can also be represented visually. This event truly was like no other because of the universal theme: Peace. It has no boundaries and it can be relayed to anyone, anywhere, it just takes one person to start the chain reaction of peace.

Chloe McCormick

It is hard to put into words how awe-inspiring it is to be seated in a room with world-renowned activists to discuss the prospect of world peace. After listening to various plans for peace from different perspectives, I feel hopeful that our world will one day be filled with harmony instead of war and injustice. I feel inspired to do my part, however small, to add to the progress that the amazing activists such as Dr. Jane Goodall and Michael Douglas have initiated. The International Day of Peace showed me that the audience, filled with students just like me, have the power to change our world for the better.

Leila Bouchekouk

Without striving for peace, we would not be able to work towards the 17 Global Goals.  Peace should be the common denominator for us all as it supports the pursuit of educational access, women's equality, the future of the environment, eradicating hunger, and responsible consumption to name a few. The desire to achieve peace sustains all of these goals. As Ambassador of Peace Herbie Hancock said that peace is not merely tolerance, but looking after and supporting our world and every person, animal, and living creature in it.

Anish Bhagwat

Every event I have attended at the United Nations is an experience I know I will never forget. Peace Day 2015 was no exception. Dr. Jane Goodall’s remarkable speech on climate change as a major global issue was especially motivating. I was inspired by the presentations of youth groups illustrating what they have done to advocate for and towards peace. I believe that every young person should have the opportunity to attend Peace Day at the United Nations and to witness what I have experienced and in doing so, spread the message of peace all across the world to pave the way for a better future for generations to come.