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International Day of Peace brought GRCC students together

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Photo for a slideshow on International Day of Peace. (Dreamstime/TNS)

By Jack Hervela

As rain tormented students on campus Thursday, Sept. 20, the Raider Grille offered an escape while buzzing with energy in celebration of International Day of Peace.

Hosted by an enthusiastic Grand Rapids Community College English Department, President Bill Pink delivered opening remarks focused on acceptance and unity through those around us, even in disagreement.

Pink reminded attendees, “Just because we don’t see eye to eye, doesn’t mean we can’t have a relationship.”

A moment of silence followed Pink’s speech before students lined up to engage in activities revolving around peace and companionship. Origami and bead-making were popular early on as GRCC’s culinary program provided vibrant, pink macaroons for snacking.

Organizers were adorned with powder blue shirts emblazoned with one dove, olive branch in beak and engaging with students to assure a comfortable environment.  

Professor Sean Mackey was passionate in speaking on what Peace Day and peace in general means in 2018. He said it is important to figure out, “how can people share and communicate ideas that conflict – that come from totally different perspectives – and yet still find common ground.”

In Mackey’s eyes, peace is developed through togetherness which at GRCC is quite easy to do.

“GRCC has over 200 student organizations, so there’s always a club or an interest or some avenue for you to get involved.” Reiterating ideals of togetherness, Mackey said, “Peace is to not feel alone.”  

Throughout the day, a DJ played upbeat songs while an impromptu Zumba session was lead by GRCC Exercise Science Professor Beth Damon.  

Student organization Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) was present with Ambassador of Peace Josue Kilile spreading this message: “Peace starts from myself, in my heart.” While a principal of CARP, Kilile said trying “to focus on a point of convergence rather than divergence,” as  being crucial to better understanding peace.

Closing out the event, local poetry collective, the Diatribe, engaged students in a slam poetry session lasting around 40 minutes.

Students were invited to interact and share experiences, much like the Diatribe tries to do themselves.

Whether students found a new organization, hobby or principle to adopt, Mackey was hopeful that all in attendance, “could at least make one new friend.”