Chalk one up for Peace Day

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

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Friday, Sept. 21 is known as “Peace Day” all around the world, and Western Illinois University is encouraging students and faculty to celebrate.

First developed by the United Nations back in 1981, Peace Day is designed to nudge the world in a direction that is free of violence and bitter behavior. Julia Albarracin, a Political Science Professor at Western, strongly believes that the holiday can be effective for Western.

“Messages can be related to our community, our state, our country or the world,” Albarracin said. “After a few years of crises in our state that affected WIU, we need to look forward and build more empathy and acceptance at WIU.”

The celebration at Western calls for students to create their own art and messages by using chalk. Western will celebrate the holiday over a two-day period on Thursday, Sept. 20, and Friday, Sept. 21, in the University Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. After participants are finished, they are encouraged to take a selfie with their art and share it on Western’s Peace Day page on Facebook.

Manager of the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program in Community Development at Western, Karen Mauldin-Curtis, is proud to be a sponsor for this year’s celebration. “In our ever more complicated and divided world, surely we can come together to shine light on peace for a day.” Mauldin-Curtis said. Other sponsors for the event include the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program, the WIU College of Arts and  Sciences, the office of Global Education and Outreach and Western’s Department of Political Science.

Coming up with the idea of using chalk to contribute to the day’s celebration was Alicia Guyette. Guyette is a volunteer for the Peace Corps and is currently vying for a master’s degree in health sciences. She believes that the celebration will help bring those in the Western community closer.

The assistant director of International Student Services in the School of Global Education and Outreach is also optimistic that Western’s tradition in celebrating the holiday will have a lasting impact. “I’m very proud that WIU continues to celebrate International Day of Peace,” Dana Sitsko said.

Per the group’s website at internationaldayofpeace.com, there are many reasons to celebrate Peace Day. “From education to the arts, social justice to sports, health to the environment, neighborhood issues to service for others, there are many ways to participate in Peace Day!”

This year, the holiday will also focus on the appreciation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is “The Right to Peace – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” This right is especially important to acknowledge this year because it will be celebrating its 70th year of existence.

There are over 140 Peace Day-themed events scheduled in states all across the United States. While each of the events are different depending their location, they typically involve music and marches.

“I hope faculty, staff, students and administration will join us.” Albarracin said.

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