Amid a world of discord and strife, International Peace Day will be observed Wednesday around the globe and Virgin Islanders will have a variety of activities to show support for peace on earth.
International Peace Day was established by the United Nations in 1981, and ringing the UN Peace bell in New York City marks the beginning of the observance each year. The Peace bell was cast from coins donated by children around the globe and is inscribed “long live absolute world peace.” In 2001, the UN designated Sept. 21 as the permanent date for “global cease fire and non-violence” each year.
Several V.I. groups are organizing events, including Alternatives to Violence Project/USA, the Rotary clubs and All Ah We, a grass roots organization on St. Croix. Alternatives to Violence is a program started in 1975 at the Green Haven Prison in Stormville, N.Y., and is based on the non-violent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. It now operates worldwide.
St. Croix events, open to the public, include:
• A human peace sign will be formed on the lawn at the University of the Virgin Islands, at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Aerial photos will be taken so participants should show up around 7:30 to be in place for the fly-by.
• Following the peace sign, a forum from 9 to 10:50 a.m will be held in the UVI Little Theater. There will be videos, computer presentations and discussions on the subject of peace and an open microphone for the public to share thoughts, poetry, and positive rap.
• The fifth U.N. International Day of Peace celebration will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Sunny Isle Shopping Center. All Ah We coordinator Heike Nilgen said activities will begin with drumming and a concert with the Frederiksted Police Athletic League musicians. Fyah Train will perform 3 to 6 p.m, and an open mike will be available for poetry reading, hip-hop and peace pledges.
St. Thomas public events are:
• On Wednesday there will be a video conference/collaboration with the St. Croix activities according to Carmen Hamilton with ATV on St. Thomas.
• Saturday, organizers will broadcast from 4 to 6 p.m. on WUCI 1090 AM and discuss peace initiatives and alternatives to violence. Hamilton said they hope people will come out to speak on the university’s radio station.
The ATV program was started on St. Croix in 2004 by Carolyn Keys. She began training volunteers who taught the program to school children, housing communities, inmates at the Youth Rehabilitation Center and Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility.
ATV training workshops use shared personal experiences, interactive exercises and games. Role-playing is used to explore responses to situations of injustice, prejudice and anger that can lead to aggressive behavior and violence. The workshops teach fear and anger management, how to deal with risk and danger, how to build good relationships and communicate in difficult situations. Keys expanded the program to St. Thomas in 2008 and St. Kitts in 2010.