Peace Across Campuses: International Peace Day Inspires ACM and FSU Students

On Sept. 20, students from Frostburg State University, Allegany College of Maryland, and Garrett College were invited to FSU’s Cordts P.E. Center to discuss the meaning of peace in celebration of the International Day of Peace. Participants explored the nature of peace both globally and in terms of campus relations.

The evening began with Student Government Association President Nick DeMichele introducing Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Tom Bowling, who provided opening remarks. Bowling reflected on peace and highlighted the lack of peace in daily life and current politics.

Current events remained a theme throughout the evening as each table of peacemakers discussed issues relating to recent political and societal discourse that hinders continuous daily peace. Dr. Elesha Ruminski, Leadership Studies Coordinator and organizer of the evening, emphasized the importance of grassroots peace, stressing the importance of citizens being engaged in democratic endeavors.

Student facilitators and recorders guided participants throughout the evening, steering conversations and encouraging engagement from each student.

Dr. Elesha Ruminski speaks with a facilitator as groups discuss the meaning of peace in the local region (TBL/Sarah Byers).
Dr. Elesha Ruminski speaks with a facilitator as groups discuss the meaning of peace in the local region (TBL/Sarah Byers).

Many groups discussed peace in the context of current national conversations including effective law enforcement. National issues were discussed in terms of the local region, with special attention paid to the unique issues Appalachia faces in achieving peace. Dr. Ruminski, when discussing the importance of youth involvement in peacemaking, stated, “History repeats itself so we need to be equipped.”

Ruminski shared a personal goal for the evening of gaining unity in order to create a better community between campuses and communities in Allegany and Garrett Counties. Ruminski, as well as additional faculty and staff facilitators, had previously attended a two-day workshop held in coordination with Allegany College of Maryland at which the notion of mindfulness was emphasized. Mindfulness remained a significant theme at the Sept. 20 event, as well; each student used this skill to analyze issues of conflict that affect them and those around them.

After dialogue, groups at the event shared potential solutions for local peace. Many of the groups suggested events for each campus to take part in, ranging from barbeques to flag football games. A few groups encouraged an increase in cultural education to decrease ignorance and intolerance. A handful of groups stressed communication, respect, and reflection in negotiating conflict and achieving peace. Other suggestions included creating a peace club at Frostburg State similar to the current model at ACM, holding more dialogues or open discussions, promoting dialogue between campuses, and adapting to diversity and practicing open-mindedness.

As the night closed, participants reflected upon the dialogue and potential actions plans. A student shared, “Peace begins by breaking down barriers.” The words seemed to resonate with the attendees, all of whom practiced this rhetoric throughout the whole night.

Other events celebrating the International Day of Peace included a Mandala Coloring Contest, an FSU Poetry Slam, an ACM Serenity Labyrinth Walk, and a FSU Global Synchronized Meditation. To find out more about the International Day of Peace, visit the event’s website. 

Featured image: (TBL/Sarah Byers)

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