United Nations Flags

Peace Week Events: Abraham Awolich Represents Lost Boys of Sudan

Attaining world peace remains a stubbornly elusive goal, but its supporters persevere. Peace Week, which takes place October 20 to 25, includes the seventh annual Peace Conference, exploring the theme “Community, Diversity, and Peace: Integrating Inquiry and Action.”

The conference will be held on October 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall. Many dignitaries will speak at the conference, including Abraham Awolich. Awolich is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who fled from his home and family and spent 12 years in refugee camps before being resettled in the United States. He is co-founder of the New Sudan Education Initiative, which is building secondary schools in Sudan. Awolich will speak from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.

“We are doing something very different this year,” said Jean Gounard, director of the International Student Affairs Office and adjunct professor of educational foundations. “We have reached out to the community, and many community organizations will sign a peace charter.” This document codifies organizations’ efforts to sustain community and celebrate diversity.

Peace Week is timed to celebrate the founding of the United Nations, which officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, less than three months after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The U.N.’s purposes include maintaining international peace and security; cooperating to solve international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; and promoting respect for human rights.

The U.N. remains relevant in struggles for peace and freedom around the world. When Myo Thant, ’05, went door to door in his native country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) seeking support for democracy, he talked to people about the United Nations human rights declaration. In the lobby of E. H. Butler Library, a Peace Week exhibit provides information about the United Nations and its many global efforts toward its goals.

Students in University College’s Writing Program took part in a peace essay contest, and the winning authors will read their work at the conference. “The essays are wonderful because they are written from the heart,” said Wendy Scott, an lecturer in the program and coordinator of the contest. “The topics are broad. Students meditate on the meaning of peace and tolerance, the richness and problems presented by diversity, and their own experiences with prejudice.” Scott also serves on the Committee for the Study of Understanding Community, Diversity, and Peace, which developed the minor of the same name.

Local and college organizations will also present at the conference. Students for Peace president Cliff Cawthon said, “We’re taking theory and thought and transforming it into concrete action to advance the cause of peace and social justice. Students respond to these issues every day, through volunteer activities, the peace minor, and activism.”

Peace Week officially begins with the raising of the flags of the United States, the United Nations, and Buffalo State in front of Campbell Student Union at noon on Monday, October 20.