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Congratulations to our 4th–12th Graders for Your Outstanding Commitment to Peace!

Every year on September 21st, the United Nations invites people around the world to celebrate peace by observing 24 hours of ceasefire and non-violence. Rochester School accepted the invitation of the United Nations to commemorate this day through education in order to strengthen the ideals of peace and alleviate the tensions and causes of conflict, both within and among the nations and peoples. On this day, our students had the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of peace on a multicultural level by exploring its meaning, the impact of commemorating this day and ways of committing to peace as a community. Also, we were able to observe how our students demonstrated systems thinking, quality relationships, cooperation and collaboration, kindness and service, leadership and language competence throughout the different activities. This event was grounded upon UNESCO’s Guidelines on Intercultural Education (2006) and Council of International Schools (CIS) standards and criteria (Domain C), in which global citizenship and intercultural learning are intentionally planned for within the curriculum to ensure students are well prepared for life beyond school. Based on these guiding principles, our students were able to participate in a series of activities in which they showed their commitment to peace.

My Hiroshima

Our Academic curriculum director, Dana Pao, read the story of My Hiroshima to our Upper Elementary students; a heartrending true story of a child who witnesses the horror of war by surviving the atomic bombing of her hometown and learns the value of peace. In this activity, students surprised us with their knowledge of World War II concepts, analyzed the effects of a war on a community and made genuine connections to their own life stories. It was astounding to see how our fourth and fifth graders connected with the main character and expressed their compassion and empathy for this WWII survivor!

Kinesthetic Peace Symbol

For this activity, participants used movement and their bodies to create a human symbol of peace. The students were successful in this activity due to their collaboration and cooperation as well as relating well with others when respecting the biosafety protocols in order to promote a safe and healthy environment. By applying the constructive habits (i.e., Supporting, Encouraging, Nurturing, Trusting, Respecting, Accepting, and Listening), the fifth graders were able to connect and foster healthy relationships with others that enabled them to work together and display the peace symbol effectively. Through this activity, these Upper Elementary students showed that in order to have a culture of peace at the personal, local, national, and global levels, it is important that we establish relationships in which we are able to satisfy our basic needs, feel supported and loved, and feel that others are not trying to control us. 

Creative Poems for Peace

Around the world, millions of children are growing up in conflict. Caught in the crossfires of war, these children are uniquely vulnerable. They are often uprooted from home or exposed to extreme trauma. It is much harder for them to access healthcare or education. And too often, warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children. 

So, what does a better future look like to a young person who has lived every day amidst violence, uncertainty and displacement? What does peace mean for a child who has grown up experiencing little, if any? With its Poems for Peace project, UNICEF gives children a chance to explain in their own words. Writing poetry is a complex activity in which artistic skills mix with linguistic elements based on a common code; however, not only were our Middle School students able to share their responses to the UNICEF poems with some poetry of their own, but they were also able to do it in a multilingual way!

Talking Action to Promote Peace

Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. Through Portuguese and French as Foreign Languages, our high school students explored four concepts grounded in action that are at the heart of global citizenship and establishing and maintaining peace in our world: Respect Life, Listen to Learn, Reject Violence, and Rediscover Solidarity. They had a chance to discuss these themes and evidence them throughout different musical genres. Then, they delved into their own artistic skills to portray their perceptions of peace and their commitment to applying it to their daily lives. 

Peace Symbol and Chain

Gerald Holtom, an English artist, created the peace symbol in 1958. He used it as a symbol of protest against nuclear weapons. He chose the naval semaphore symbol for the letter “N” and the letter “D” and put them together in one symbol. The “N” and the “D” stood for nuclear disarmament. Putting these two signs in a circle was also significant because a circle is “complete.” Thus, it meant complete nuclear disarmament. Since this symbol has been widely accepted as the visual representation of peace, our High School students worked in partnership with our Fusca Program students to create a peace chain. The High School students explained the history and significance of the peace sign before watching the video Kids for Peace–Will It Be You?, with English subtitles. The two groups of students collaborated to create a chain that contained visual representations of peace. The High Schoolers facilitated a discussion about the meaning of peace and how we can all commit to it in our daily lives.

All in all, the Rochester community showed commitment, respect and acknowledged the crucial role that peace plays in our multicultural society. We invite everyone to also accept the UN’s invitation to commemorate peace in their daily lives and to commit to demonstrating it with each person, with others and with the whole context in mind!

Guiselle A. Rincón Callejas English Curriculum Assistant Director, Grades 4-12

Resumen: Cada año, el 21 de septiembre, las Naciones Unidas invitan a personas de todo el mundo a celebrar la paz observando 24 horas de alto el fuego y no violencia. Rochester School aceptó la invitación de las Naciones Unidas para conmemorar este dÃ

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