American Gandhians salute ‘peace city'
The Times of India - 2 September 2005
Chandigarh is famous throughout India as a shining example of a green, modern city. Only recently did we learn there is a programme in the city known as “Campaign for Peace-City Chandigarh.” When we first arrived at the train station, we were greeted by students and teachers from KB DAV Sr. Sec. Public School , bearing gifts of flowers. At first impression, Chandigarh was living up to its title.
This was quickly followed by an orientation into the amazing work and tireless staff of Yuvsatta, a local NGO promoting peace and sustainability through various projects, ranging from student education, to composting, to Greentire, a programme advocating bicycle riding as a simple solution to local travel.
We came here to meet with the students of Chandigarh as part of our Friends Without Borders campaign. The message we came to convey is incredibly simple. Kids everywhere want peace and happiness and by building bridges early on with their peers across the borders, not only will internal feelings of connection begin to develop, but the external bonds created through this exercise will also mature into a more peaceful world to come.
We traveled by bike across town with many inspiring local hosts, and went from school to school, meeting with thousands of students, and dozens of enthusiastic teachers and principals. Again, we have been greeted with nothing but warm and overflowing hospitality everywhere we have gone.
Today we addressed hundreds of students gathered for morning assembly at Moti Ram Arya Sr. Sec. School , Sector 27. We then proceeded on Greentire cycles to Govt. Model Sr. Sec. School , Sector 37 where we met with a large room full of students, also answering their many questions. So far, we've been very impressed with how well-mannered and well-educated the students seem to consistently be in Chandigarh .
We then biked to St. Xavier School , where we addressed 1500 students, all assembled under the hot, midday sun. Because of the heat, we kept it short, with the clear message that it's the kids who have peace in their hearts and should be actively involved as Ambassadors for Peace.
From there, we met with the Principal and teachers of Govt. Model Sr. Sec. School , Sector 16. The response to the exercise was very enthusiastic, particularly from Sarita Tewari, an English teacher who just recently returned from the U.S. , studying peace as part of a Fulbright Scholarship. We spoke of our motivations and were handed a large stack of artistically designed cards of all shapes and sizes.
The response we have received from the people and schools of Chandigarh has been extraordinary. From our brief experience here in Chandigarh , it has most definitely lived up to its “Peace-City” status.
|It may be long before the law of love will be recognised in international affairs. The machineries of government stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another. -- M.K. Gandhi|