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International Day of Peace, 21 September 2010

Peace stories


Serbian and Albanian youth develop a common phrasebook – a message of peace from South Serbia

South Serbia, September 2010 – "I was shocked how little we understand each other's language" are the first words Bojana, a volunteer with ‘Generator’, which is an NGO based in the municipality of Vranje, says when she talks about inter-ethnic relations among young people in South Serbia.

Serbian-Albanian pocket phrasebook

The Serbian–Albanian pocket phrasebook which starts with ‘Mir = Päqe = Peace’ was produced by youth volunteers from South Serbia, which is a region that has previously been affected by inter-ethnic tensions and instability.

Over the last ten to fifteen years, language barriers have become a more significant problem, with many young people from Serbian, Albanian and Roma backgrounds unable to understand each other – a situation which contributes to isolation and ignorance of other groups’ perspectives.

The language barriers became evident in the planning of a joint youth conference – young people were stunned how little they understood each other's language. The Serbian-Albanian phrasebook is an answer to this and a way to overcome language barriers and send a message of peace and hope for the future. "The project brought together young volunteers in South Serbia to work for the benefit of all of us", says Bojana.

Avni Aliti, the Youth Office co-ordinator in the multi-ethnic municipality of Presevo, stressed that “The municipal Youth Office, which is part of the national infrastructure for youth, is a vital resource and plays a very important role in bringing young people together for joint activities, often in collaboration with NGOs such as 'Generator'. Bridging language barriers is a big challenge, but I feel we can make a really important contribution in helping build friendships and capacities among South Serbia's next generation”.

About Peacebuilding and Inclusive Local Development (PBILD)

The Peacebuilding and Inclusive Local Development (PBILD) joint UN programme in South Serbia will work with Youth Offices and civil society, as well as on language education, as part of efforts to build human capacities for positive change in the region.
For more information, please go to: http://www.undp.org.rs/index.cfm?event=public.newsDetails&revid=1BD7DD21-9458-8B6E-9EDA5F7891875F2B

Peace day 2009 at Vienna International School: The entire school community comes together to create a human peace dove

students forming shape of dove

31 August 2010, Vienna, Austria: The International Day of Peace provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. Since Vienna International School is so strongly linked to the United Nations community, it is only natural that we pause every year on this day to reflect on how we can strive for peace in our lives, our community and in the world.

On September 21st 2009, as they entered the school; to a background of peace songs; students, parents and staff were asked to contribute to the peace board by answering the questions: What is your pathway to peace?  How can we achieve peace in our lives, our school community and the world? A group of students sold peace bracelets, with profits going to “The coalition to stop the use of child soldiers”. The school was a sea of white as all of our school community had agreed to dress in white to show their commitment to peace. 

Then at 10:30, more than 900 students from grades 1 to 12 and their teachers assembled on the football field to create a magnificent human peace dove.  It was a great moment!  “Every time I begin to doubt our sense of school spirit, occasions like these renew my faith in the strength of our community.  It is incredibly uplifting to see so many students; different ages, different ethnicities who are willing to share ideas and energy in this way for the cause of peace.” said grade 12 student Yayra Sumah.

This year, for Peace Day 2010, The VIS community will once again gather to show their commitment to peace.  Students will come together to make and fly peace dove kites, to participate or cheer on students and teachers in a “playing for peace” football match and to reflect on how each and every one of us can make a difference.

By Constance George from the Vienna International School

The Inauguration of the “World Peace Choir” at the University of Vienna

Children's choir in Vienna

31 August 2010, Vienna, Austria: Under the motto “Coming together to sing, singing for a better future” a few days before the beginning of the “International Year of the Youth” (on August 11), the inauguration of the “World Peace Choir” with children of several continents took place in the Great Festival Hall of the University of Vienna.

Inspired by the idea that Music is a universal means of communication beyond linguistic and national boundaries, evoking affection and bringing humans together to share the appreciation of artistic emotions, three partners - “mediaArt”, the “Vienna Boys Choir” and the “Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna”- organized the “Vienna-World Peace Choral Festival” on August 3.

Separate children choirs from Asia and  Europe presented songs from their native places. Further performances were given in the “Vienna International Center”, in front of the Townhall of Vienna, and finally in the Concert Hall of Vienna, then combining all singers to create an international choir of some 300 children. During the forthcoming year the organizers of the Peace Choir will invite children from as many countries and areas as possible.

“There are different traditions, be it in Asia, in the West or wherever, however there is only one common future for humankind”, Richard Trappl, Director of the Confucius Institute, said in his welcome speech.

After the touching start of the Choir in the “Capital of Music” Vienna confidence was expressed that during the “Year of the Youth” and beyond the Choir will contribute towards better understanding and appreciation between those whom our world will be handed in, the next generations of all parts of our planet.

By Richard Trappl / Confucius Institute - University of Vienna

Slovak students plant peace trees

students with tree they have planted

24 August 2010, Levice, Slovakia – Students of the “Business Academy” secondary school, situated in Levice, a small town in southern Slovakia, gathered today to add a new tree to their school’s Peace Alley.

Planting a Peace Tree is a five-year old tradition organized by the school’s Human Rights Club. Cooperating with schools, NGOs and international organizations locally and globally, the Club, run for the students by the teacher Ms. Mészárosová, organizes workshops, videoconferences and study visits for students and their local community, such as a recent day-trip to the United Nations in Vienna in June 2010. Through these activities organized by the students themselves, boys and girls from Levice learn what human rights are and promote them in their hometown. “Peace and human rights are closely interlinked”, says the founder of the club, Ms. Mészárosová.

Planting the Peace Tree is a part of an annual workshop by the Club, expressing the students´ wish to create peace in the world. Learning about peace, its history and important figures, students have the opportunity to show the world how they care about peace.

“We organize such workshops not only to talk about peace; we’re here because we believe in peace. However, it isn’t enough to believe, we must work for it”, said Ján Seneši, a student organizer of the workshop. “Only with our active participation can world peace become a reality”, another student, Natália Ľahká.“If peace was here for all the time…,” the students sang at the end of the workshop. 

Youth Ambassadors for Peace

“Youth Ambassadors for Peace” is a global alliance of young leaders representing humanity in all of its religious, racial and ethnic diversity. A youth ambassador for peace is a leader who seeks the harmony of body and spirit and who is capable of reconciling people. With a real love he seeks to build a world of freedom, harmony, unity and happiness for all mankind. She or he also acquires the necessary experience to resolve modern conflicts, which are often rooted in ethnic and religious strife. An appointment of the Youth Ambassador for Peace is not a reward for past accomplishments.  It is an appointment with a new responsibility of building a lasting peace.

We strive to organize actions related to the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. We conduct wide-ranging activities on the International Day of Peace, International Day of Families, and Universal Children's Day. We help the elderly who live alone, because humanity is all one family even if we do not have direct family ties with these people. We illustrate the value and importance of care for each person through direct interaction with them or sending them greeting cards for birthdays, as well as via assisting them with cleaning and washing windows. We actively participate in the Spring Week of Doing Good Deeds and in international fora abroad.

As friends or older brothers and sisters we try to playfully convey to younger children the knowledge and skills of peacemaking in order to convey to adolescents a love of life, people and the natural world. In order to do this, we organize days of compassion, and we coordinate training sessions on conflict resolution, sports events, festivals "Assembly of World Youth against War and Terror," conferences, and environmental programs.

We strive to create a family atmosphere.

More information about the activities and principles of the youth ambassadors of peace can be found on the following websites:
www.eurasia.upf.org and www.youthfederation.ru.

Peace Initiative in the South Caucasus Region

Mission: To set up a new channel of communication and dialogue between the parties to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for the development of the methods of traditional diplomacy, understanding, inter-religious cooperation, humanitarian aid projects and service, with a view of achieving lasting peace in the South Caucasus region and adjacent areas of Eurasia. Since August 2008 Eurasian Peace Council calls on all participants in the conflict zone of Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, including Russia, is trying to find a peaceful resolution of conflict situations based on the concept of Universal Peace Federation "Peace in the heart - peace in the family - peace in society - world peace. "

The Ural Division of the Universal Peace Federation conducts the project "Ural-Georgia: we are friends." The Ural children crafted more than two hundreds of paper doves as a symbol of peace, friendship and good intentions, and addressed their best wishes to the students of one of Tbilisi’s schools. The Tbilisi children and teachers were moved by the messages from the Ural and they responded to the offer of friendship: they sent letters with the stories about their life, their studies and hobbies, the beauty of the Georgian Republic, photographs and drawings.

The Ural Mountains are the geographical demarcation between the European and Asian continents. There were three torches lit at the ceremony: two torches were a symbol of goodwill for each of the continents and a third for the Urals. Torches, which connected the "bridge of peace" from the Ural Mountains to the Caucasus region, were transferred to the Caucasus. Several hundreds of souvenirs and gifts for the children of Georgia from the Ural school were also sent. During a similar ceremony in Georgia, the torches were merged into a single torch of peace, the fire of which symbolized mutual good intentions and wishes of peoples. After the concert a flock of white doves and a garland of balloons, symbols of peace, were released into the sky.

You can read about all of the events on the following sites:
www.eurasia.upf.org  (Russian)
http://www.upf.org/ (English)

Playing Soccer for Peace

The project "Playing Soccer for Peace" is being implemented in order to spread the culture of peace, tolerance and a healthy lifestyle among youth by increasing the number of young people who play soccer in Russia, take part in soccer tournaments. This project also involves soccer teams in social outreach.

The main feature of such tournaments of the project "Playing Soccer for Peace" is in their social orientation. It goes without saying that on the green field the zeal of real soccer is exhibited, and everyone applies a maximum effort to return to their home towns with medals. However, the famous slogan "it is not important to win, it is important to participate” becomes most relevant when children play soccer for the sake of peace, friendship, for the sake of something that transcends language barriers, national borders or political disagreements. These tournaments contribute to the further development of our students who have maintained a strong expectation that in spite of adverse social factors, they can all reach the same level with good results, both in sports and in life.

The tournament was established during the youth international fora, "Seliger-2009," "Russia is for Everyone", and "Hyperborea 2009-2010” in Karelia. On May 10, 2010 in Brateevo in the South-East Administrative District of Moscow  took place the tournament "Playing Soccer for Peace” dedicated to Victory Day. It is encouraging that, despite various political differences, a common language of soccer for the sake of peace could unite the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Russia on the same field. The soccer team of the municipality Brateevo returned to Moscow on 6 July of this year. It represented our country at the international tournament "Playing Soccer for Peace" in Estonia. Every year more and more teams arrive to the Estonian city of Pärnu in order to participate in the Summer Cup «PärnuSummerCup».

You can find more information on the following site: http://eurasia.upf.org/


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