The theme continued on Day 2 as we explored the ROLE OF EDUCATION in peacemaking. The morning began with much energy as the auditorium swarmed with elementary students exploring and soaking in the moment. The noise, energy and anticipation was palpable as groups of children in matching shirts wandered through the interactive booths before heading to their seats. My 7 year old 1st grade son sat with me with hundreds of school children sitting all around and behind us on the bleachers. A group of 1st graders sang "Free to Be You and Me" with cute little actions and bubbly smiles with almost all their teeth. I suddenly felt optimistic that somehow the world would be ok. The camera zoomed in on the kids as they sang, catching an awkward flub when a girl reached to shake a hand and the other girl aloofly turned away, leaving her there only to shrug. An eruption of laughs followed as we enjoyed the innocence of their singing and their message. And somehow this laughter brought a bunch of strangers from across the auditorium close together.
As a highlight of the morning, Nobel Laureate
F.W. de Klerk addressed the children and students, challenging them to work for a future vision together. He spoke lovingly of his granddaughter and how a price for peace is his time away from family. The session also included a contagious joy bringer from Concordia Language Village who led kids to sing and dance in Spanish. Wakka Wakka Hey Hey! And then the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance shared how stories connect people for things more than "just a book club" as they unite to tackle humanitarian projects.
I asked Caleb my son about his favorite part of the Festival. Not in rank order... 1) meeting so many children who liked to smile 2) Dancing like a crazy frog 3) Nobel Prize winner 12 foot crossword puzzle 4) Seeing President de Klerk. "That's the first President I've ever seen not on the TV!
After Daddy picked him up after lunch, I headed to the rest of the programming which is for the older audience. Joe Cavenaugh, founder of Youth Frontiers, spoke about slowing down and being present. He shared about the student retreats they host and the tools they teach for peacemaking. A great quote he reminded me of again comes from Edward Burke: "The way for evil to prevail is fo the majority to do nothing." Simple summary: If 10% are bullies and 10% are victims, the other 80% need to stand up and stop the bullies. How do we make things better today? Be present. Be consience. Don't be afraid to live out your values and challenge others to do the same.
My final class for the night was with Professor Denny Falk who presented "Educating Globally Competent Citizens." We explored characteristics and skills a student would need and were introduced to some great tools like miniature earth and world mapper.
Takeaway: The opportunity cost for NOT designing our education system to develop globally competent citizens is a generation of the status quo. We can do better. We must do better at educating our children, whatever the cost, or peace will not happen.