Paint for Peace article
Many people regard World Peace as something unattainable and impossible to achieve. We see the result of war every single day in the news, innocent lives being killed. Victims led their lives feeling that it was a mistake bringing them into this world.
As the president of the AFS-YES (Youth Exchange and Study) Alumni Malaysia, I realize that although we cannot completely stop the war, the least we can do is to drive the public to move towards peace.
“PEACE is something we can create!” is the tagline of the online peace petition campaign. The petition drive had its international launch at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway on April 27th. Together with 7 members of the AFS-YES Alumni Malaysia, we decided to organize a public event to raise the awareness of peace through intercultural understanding.
The petition was held to ask the world leaders to open doors to cultivate more exchange programs. Intercultural tolerance enables us to see beyond our differences and look deep into our similarities as mankind in this world.
We begin promoting the petition by sending mass emails to all our friends and family, putting up posters in our own car so the public as we drive on the road and even promoting the petition through schools for the past two months. Our goal is to collect 10 000 signatures with the Paint for Peace Petition Weekend as the highlight of our project.
The Paint for Peace Petition Weekend was held on 29th and 30th September 2007 in One Utama Shopping Center. Throughout the weekend, shoppers signed the petition and placed their palm prints on the banner, after which they will receive a door gift and a peace ribbon from us. The banner painted will later be presented and displayed at the World Peace Forum in New York at the end of October.
“This is the most memorable thing I’ve done in my youthful years!” says project assistant Ng Yah Tyng, 19 years old. Youth empowerment is the key word in this project. “Although we are all still full time students we share the same will power to make a difference in this nation. We seek for greater opportunities to develop our leadership skills and promote youth empowerment in Malaysia.”
When we say we want world peace, we don’t just say it and try to be Miss World. We seek express our desire for world peace through our actions. By encouraging the public to help paint this banner, we believe that there will be a birth of a new nation worldwide who will seek for greater understanding and tolerance towards one another.
Intercultural exchange programs teach young people all over the world, that our concerns are global. An exchange experience fosters mutual understanding that can help bridge our differences and lead to peace.
As Dr. Yahya Mat Hassan, AFS Malaysia National Chairman launched the event, he explained, “Learning takes place when there is a reflection. In such intercultural exchange programs, the students were taught that there is no absolute right or wrong in another culture.
“Therefore, our students are exposed into the value of accepting differences. This mindset cultivated in the student’s life will help to create a new value in their lives.”
Also presented during the opening ceremony were Dr. Marjorie Harrison, Cultural Attaché of US Embassy Malaysia and celebrity Yasmin Yusuff, who is also a former exchange student and the current ambassador for AFS Antarabudaya Malaysia.
As cliché as it may sound, the youths today are the leaders of tomorrow. As we live in a completely different culture, we see the whole world with different perspectives as find the way to reach the peace. The solution to every fight is knowledge and acceptance of other people, cultures, religions, languages, traditions. Friendship leads to Peace, Peace leads to Understanding.
So, was the goal achieved? You wonder. Indeed, we have collected almost 11 000 signatures on the petition so far, 3500 signatures on that weekend itself. A job well done to the organizing committee, sponsors and parents and the public for their support in making this event successful. I am glad that there are a lot of peace supporters out there.
The signature campaign will still be on till the end of October. If you missed your chance to participate in this event, you are still not too late! Log on to www.exchanges4peace.org to sign the petition today and watch your country’s flag appear in the word “PEACE”.
President of AFS YES Alumni Malaysia, YES batch 2005