Campus organizes Day of Peace events

by Jasmine Oh | 11/2/17 2:00am

The William Jewett Tucker Center and United Campus Ministers organized a Day of Peace on Oct. 30 to offer an opportunity to meet others of different backgrounds and create a space of healing through prayers for those impacted by mental health issues, natural disasters, immigration, racial injustice and gun violence. According to Dean and Chaplain of the William Jewett Tucker Center Rabbi Daveen Litwin, approximately 46 people gathered for the vigil on the Green, which took place at 5 p.m. This was the first time the event had occurred, according to Tucker Center multi-faith advisor and event organizer Leah Torrey.

The Day of Peace comprised of three events spread throughout the day. At the first event at 9 a.m., students could pick up the Day of Peace t-shirts. Participating students then changed into the t-shirts for the day to show solidarity for the event and its cause. Although approximately 120 students signed up through a form that was emailed through the campus listserv, Litwin said that not as many people came to the pick up their shirt and attend the other two events.

Participants gathered on the Green at 12:30 p.m. for the second event of the day, a chance for students to meet students with different backgrounds. Approximately 25 students attended, and participants were then encouraged to have lunch with one another. The final event was an evening prayer vigil for peace during which several short prayers were led by students. Each prayer addressed one of the topics mentioned above.

According to Torrey and event organizer and United Campus Minister Sang Wook Nam, the Day of Peace was initiated by Nam’s concern for the issues of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as the Aug. 11 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

“I think it sprang from the idea of mine at the monthly gathering for UCM members,” Nam said. “I have a few friends whose siblings or whose sons or daughters are facing problems with DACA, and I share empathy with them because they are all close to me. I was having issues with DACA matters, so I brought up my thought on DACA at the meeting because I thought that we were talking and not doing anything ... That’s how it started.”

Furthermore, organizers, such as Torrey, expressed their desire to address the pain and suffering that they felt was accumulating around the world.

“In addition to DACA and Charlottesville, it just felt like there was a lot of suffering accumulating,” Torrey said. “Every time I pulled up my New York Times briefing in the morning, the headlines were just constant pain and suffering. I wanted to find a way to address and also recognize the way in which global, national pain influences the student life here and the College, so the last prayer was a prayer focusing on mental health.”

According to both Nam and Torrey, just as there was no singular event that initiated the Day of Peace, there was also no singular goal or mission statement that the organizers developed for the event itself. Instead, each individual was recommended to take their own perspective on the matter, and organizers talked about a wide range of goals that they hoped to achieve.

Just as organizers had different experiences goals in mind, students, such as Elizabeth Gonzalez ’18, who led the prayer on mental health, expressed their own goals or experiences, and how it translated to their own perspective of the event.

“I actually took a medical leave for mental health after the end of my freshman year, so obviously it’s an issue that’s personal for me, and a lot of my friends struggle with different mental health issues on campus, so I’m also here as an advocate and in solidarity with them as well,” Gonzalez said. “I think this event is just about coming together as a community and taking time to stop doing whatever we’re doing now in Monday of Week 8 and be like a community with each other.”

Other students who led prayers, such as Arthur Mensah ’19, expressed their hope for students to take advantage of this event in order to remember that there are events and hardships happening not only at the College, but also in the outside world, which can be difficult due to how busy Dartmouth students are.

Some participants, such as Isaiah Miller ’21 and Sharidan Russell ’18, also expressed how the Day of Peace served as a positive reminder of the importance in supporting peace and remembering the diversity of people as well as existing issues.

“I think it’s great that they chose so many issues, rather than focusing on just one, because I think people suffer in a variety of ways,” Russell said. “[There are] so many fears and worries on this campus right now, and making sure that all, or at least many are seen, and seen by different faiths, I just thought that was really great.”