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World Peace Day celebrated at GRCC

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Sam Gould playing the aslatua, a common children's toy as well as instrument, from the Ga tribe in Ghana.

The International Day of Peace, often referred to as World Peace Day, was celebrated on the second floor of the Student Community Center building Wednesday.

Sean Mackey, assistant English professor and advisor of Grand Rapids Community College’s Display magazine, delivered the opening remarks and challenged the audience to be “where world peace exists” and to create “a better place, a better world, starting with the individual.”

Sean Mackey, assistant English professor and advisor of Grand Rapids Community College’s Display magazine, gives the opening remarks for GRCC's World Peace day.
Sean Mackey, assistant English professor and advisor of Grand Rapids Community College’s Display magazine, gives the opening remarks for GRCC’s World Peace day. Avery Jennings | The Collegiate Live

About 150 people attended the event and attendees were provoked to think about what individuals can do to contribute to a more peaceful society.

“We have so many environmental and physical scars of where we (the world) have done bad things,”  Mackey said. “We don’t have many places where we have visual representations of where people have done the opposite, creating positive impacts. The reason why we don’t have a lot of those positive impacts is because they’re very subtle, they’re very small movements and gestures. Because of this, there isn’t really a record as opposed to literature and history where we have all these records of violence, war and conquest. Rarely (are) the day-to-day acts of peace and kindness… documented, so we are trying to promote that and tell people that peace starts with themselves.”

Shavval Fleming, a GRCC English professor, co-coordinated the event along with Mackey and wanted to promote the idea that world peace can’t be done alone.

“If we’re not helping co-create the world we live in, then people are going to be attaining degrees for accounting or journalism, for example, in a world that’s filled to the brim with hurt, pain and death,” Fleming said. “That, to me, just doesn’t make sense, so it’s important that each of us recognizes there’s a part to play in accomplishing world peace and to contribute because one person can’t do it themselves.”

Mackey believes that going forward, society needs to set itself up for success.

“We have technological capabilities (and) we have environmental capabilities in which we can end problems, such as world hunger,” Mackey said. “In the current generation’s lifetime, we will not be able to feed everyone the way we do right now. We need to take some longer term practical, political and environmental steps in order to make the world peaceful because if we do have food shortages, for example, that’s certainly an easy time for things to go badly, like war and violence.”

GRCC freshman and Recording Technology major Brendan Myles signs the GRCC Peace Pledge to promote peace.
GRCC freshman and Recording Technology major Brendan Myles signs the GRCC Peace Pledge to promote peace. Avery Jennings

Other parts of the celebration included a vocal and instrumental performance by Sam Gould, an adjunct professor for GRCC,  of various ethnic songs from Ghana, Africa as well as the GRCC Choir performing songs promoting world peace. The event concluded with Chef Gilles Renusson, a professor with GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, who organized students in his annual sugar pull.