'Emory 21 Days of Peace' promotes building peace locally, globally

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | Sept. 5, 2017

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Artist and Emory PhD student Fahamu Pecou designed the poster for Emory 21 Days of Peace, which invites the Emory community to engage in events and a social media campaign promoting peace at home and around the world.

When it comes to the work of building peace, it helps to begin in your own backyard.

“As Emory law professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im likes to point out, you don’t necessarily have to go far away to make a big difference — start where you are,” says Obse Ababiya, senior program coordinator for the Laney Graduate School’s Institute for Developing Nations (IDN).

To help advance that goal, the IDN, Emory Campus Life and the Carter Center’s Human Rights Program are partnering to present “Emory 21 Days of Peace,” a social media campaign and series of campus events intended to promote peace in an interconnected and interdependent world.

“Peace is not passive,” says IDN Interim Director Dabney Evans, assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the Rollins School of Public Health’s Hubert Department of Global Health.

“Instead, the achievement of peace requires action,” she says. “In fraught times like ours, the principles of peace provide a North Star to guide us.”

This year’s programming includes a workshop on translating research into policy and social media campaigns highlighting Emory peacemakers and advancing an invitation to participate in daily prayer and meditation. The Emory 21 Days of Peace campaign is also partnering on two key annual events for first-year students: the Welcoming Day of Service, which was held Sept. 2, and the upcoming Carter Town Hall Meeting.

Activities will culminate with a public keynote by renowned humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom, a network of schools and hospitals focused on children’s welfare throughout Burundi, and 2013 recipient of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Emory.

Aimed at students — but open to those throughout the campus community — the three-week program aspires to educate and empower people to work for peace in both their local and global communities, says Ababiya, who co-chairs the Emory 21 Days of Peace Committee with James Roland of Emory Campus Life. 

“Turn on the TV or the radio these days, and you are bombarded with images of violence, which seem so pervasive,” says Roland, senior director of civic and community engagement, director of the Emory Center for Advancing Nonviolence and director of the Atlanta Urban Debate League.

“These types of initiatives not only allow us to give students skills associated with nurturing peace and peace building, but the whole university, too," he says. “If we can learn to have conversations across difference and see the humanity in each other, not only will we see successful college students and Emory graduates, but we will see a truly profound and positive impact on the world.”

Launched last year in connection with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, which is Sept. 21, the campaign strives to offer activities that create points of meaningful engagement, says Ababiya. The United States Institute of Peace originated #PeaceDayChallenge, which Emory partners have expanded upon for to create a three-week calendar of events, she notes. 

“We didn’t want to just provide activities where students come, listen and leave — we wanted students to be engaged and come up with solutions to problems, which is part of IDN’s mission.”

Program highlights this year include:

Sept. 1-21:

Emory Peacemakers: Social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram features Emory peacemakers; students, staff and faculty are also invited to post submissions of their own peace-building friends and colleagues using the hashtag #Emory21DaysofPeace or #PeaceDayChallenge.

Prayers and Meditations for Peace: Led by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life at Emory, participants are invited to use social media to pause and reflect on prayers and meditations promoting peace. Twitter: OSRL125; Facebook: Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life; Instagram: emoryOSRL.

Sept. 6:

Wonderful Wednesday, 12-1 p.m., Asbury Circle. Emory’s Student Government Association hosts Emory 21 Days of Peace. Refreshments provided by Refuge Coffee.

Sept. 12:

Translating Research into Policy, 12 p.m., Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (PAIS), Room 220. This workshop will guide students on how to translate their research into policy, particularly linking research with organizations and building long-term relationships that yield concrete solutions. Features presenters from a number of schools and departments, including the Departments of Political Science and Anthropology, Emory School of Law and the Rollins School of Public Health.

Sept. 13:

Carter Town Hall Meeting, 8 p.m., Woodruff PE Center. First-year students are invited to hear President Jimmy Carter address the Emory community and answer questions submitted by students. Contact Emory Campus Life for more information about this ticketed event.

Sept. 16 and Sept. 23:

Debate Training: Emory students will go through judge training and assist in Atlanta Urban Debate League debates in area middle and high schools to help promote civil discourse. For full calendar, check here.

Sept. 22:

Finale keynote, 12 p.m., Emory Center for Ethics Commons, Room 102. Marguerite Barankitse, renowned Burundian humanitarian and founder of Maison Shalom, speaks. In 1993, when Burundi erupted in civil war, Barankitse was a witness to murderous attacks and began caring for hundreds of children orphaned by war. In response, she founded Maison Shalom, a complex of schools and hospitals throughout Burundi focused on children’s welfare. Her talk, which will be live-streamed at facebook.com/forumonwomen by the Carter Center’s Human Rights Program, is free and open to the public.