Posts Tagged ‘PAAC’

World Peace Day – 45 Years Later

Yeah, it’s been reflection time these past two weeks about a student project from 45 years ago. At the time I was teaching at Baldwin High School on Maui, and I was advisor to the Pacific and Asian Affairs Club. The beginning of my second year, Claudia Otsuka and her twin Dawn came to me with the idea for a World Peace Day that spring. It was my second year on Maui and my second year teaching, so why not? Little did I know how memorable the journey would be. I wrote about it here for the 40th anniversary, with all the news clippings.

In 1972 we were at war in Vietnam, cities were on fire with protests, marginalized groups were trying to speak up and have their voices heard. What bothered me this week – and as a history person, nearly every week – is that nothing has changed. We’re marching for Climate Change tomorrow the 29th. We’re in two wars, and the prospects of getting involved in North Korea scares me. I really thought I was done having to worry about where I lived and what part of the house would be the best place to hold out in case of a nuclear attack.

Minimal technology in this endeavor – mimeo machines, typewriters and carbon paper, phone calls to Washington, DC to our House Representative Sparky Matsunaga who was a keynote speaker…..arranging lodging, going to Honolulu to talk to the legislature about getting an official World Peace Day through the legislature, getting parade permits for our Walk for Peace to raise money for the event – and being consistently called a Communist for protesting for peace. I guess nowadays my label would be “libtard.”

Sparky was the first person, aside from the high school support (which was mild) to believe in what we wanted to accomplish. From the webpage:

So here we are again…..still….searching for that elusive peace……My generation is a transitional one – from starting out believing life would be better for us to wondering in our older years if anything will be left for us. Back to the barricades…..

World Peace Day – April 28, 1972 – 40 Years Later

Forty years ago I was teaching at Baldwin High School, on the island of Maui. I was adviser to a student group called Pacific and Asian Affairs Council. In September of my second year teaching, two of the students, Claudia and Dawn Otsuka, came to me with an idea….have a day-long celebration devoted to studying peace. We started planning then, and on April 28, 1972, we held World Peace Day. Along the way we raised money through a 9-mile Walk for Peace, lobbied the state legislature to make April 28 an official World Peace Day, convinced the school administration to cancel regular classes in favor of peace activities, and planned a weekend of events for PAAC groups around the state.

It was quite the undertaking, and as the adviser, I learned a lot. In the name of one of the students I wrote to our Congressional representative, Sparky Matsunaga, about coming and being the keynote speaker – and he accepted. I lobbied the mayor’s office to get the parade permit for our Walk for Peace. Students participated in the peace walk in droves, raising $2000 (in 1972 dollars) to support activities. We lined up the mayor, the governor, pro athletes….as I was rereading some of the articles, I am amazed at what the students were able to accomplish.

Two major lessons: students will rise to the expectations set for them. The whole high school participated in activities that Friday, listening to speakers and attending small group activities. The PAAC group handled so many various little details, creating slide shows, hosting students and faculty members in their homes, speaking to groups, preparing materials, providing entertainment. When you have school groups coming from Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island to Maui for two days, there are a lot of little important details. They spoke to the state legislature, giving them meaningful arguments for a declaration for a World Peace Day.

The other lesson was a surprise to me. In 1972 we were still at war in Vietnam. I fielded phone calls saying what the students were doing was a communist plot. So many negative phone calls about a communist plot in Peace Day. We had no hidden agendas beyond talking about the need for peace. But to many people, peace was perceived as being against the government and against the Vietnam War.

This was the beginning of my understanding just what students could do when motivated by an idea of their own. The involvement of students from the very beginning of an idea (in fact, their idea) led to ownership on their part. In the years since then, I have often asked teacher and administrative groups, as they are sharing something “new” with us, where the “student voice” is. It’s always missing, and I still get looks along the lines of, “Yeah, like the kids will really want to do that.”

But they do, and part of what is wrong with education today is that students are not really involved in major decision-making.

Yet on one sunny Friday and Saturday in April, 40 years ago, a group of high school students made their mark at the state and local level with World Peace Day. The following year, they followed up with an environmental conference held as a student United Nations event. PAAC members, I salute you. You did well.

Linda Lemke Moran, Baldwin High School, 1970 – 1973

Done the old-fashioned way, on a  mimeo…..

Written by a fellow teacher at Baldwin, John Bose, a veteran of Korea.

The fine print gives the text of messages from the Congressional delegation, among others.

And the next year’s event, the Model UN Conference on the Environment:

PS – peace is still ever elusive…..

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