In the midst of all the strife in the world, people across the globe are seeking peace. One way to help achieve this seemingly unattainable peace is to learn about the problems the world is facing and talk about how to solve them, and on Saturday, September 12, that very thing was done here at Elizabethtown College. This event to promote peace was the fourth annual Peace Symposium to Celebrate International Peace Day. The six hour long event was hosted by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg in the Susquehanna room behind Myer Residence Hall. The theme of the Peace Symposium this year was Peace in Our Time and featured various topics relating to conflict and peace at home and abroad.
The event began at 10 o’clock with a welcome from Dr. Joyce M. Davis, the president of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, and then a few words from President Strikwerda of Elizabethtown College. The first two hours were spent in a panel format discussing issues of global peace, including the dispute in Ukraine, Turkey and ISIS, the amnesty program in Nigeria, and the relations of the United States with Cuba and Asia. Speaking on these issues of global peace were Dr. R Craig Nation from Dickinson University, Aydogan Vatandas of the Zaman Turkish Daily, Dr. Festus Odubo, and Dr. David Kenley from Elizabethtown College, respectively. Each speaker gave information about their area of expertise and then the audience was given a period of time to ask questions. During the luncheon, the audience had the privilege of listening to a very special keynote speaker. This year the speaker was Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, the spokesperson for Iran during the nuclear negotiations that occurred with the European Union. He also was the head of the Foreign Relations Committee for Iran’s National Security Council as well as Iran’s ambassador to Germany. In the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, he is a research scholar where he focuses on improving relations between the United States and Iran as well as resolving Iran’s nuclear crisis. After the luncheon, the focus of the Peace Symposium shifted to current national issues in a session called Peacemakers in Our Midst. Some of the issues discussed were economic equality, racial justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police and the people. The speakers that were invited to talk about these topics were Dr. Richard Huhes from Messiah College, Donna Fleetwood from BPeace, Gerald Rhoades from the Brethren Community Ministries, Chief Thomas C. Carter from the Harrisburg Police Department, and Amanda Arbour from the Racial Justice Program at the YWCA. The Peace Symposium also featured the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg’s first “Peacemakers in Our Midst” awards. First year student Brandon Wolf went to this portion of the event and thought that “it was very interesting to go and see how certain people affected the different communities that they came from.” He enjoyed listening to “a police chief from Harrisburg and some professors from other colleges” because he felt that “it was very interesting to take time out of your own day to learn about other people.”
The Peace Symposium had a great turnout this year with many members of the community attending as well as Elizabethtown students. Emily Seratch, the president of the class of 2019, enjoyed going to the event and said, “I thought it was very interesting and also a very important event. I think it’s important to discuss the issues they brought up because we need to find a solution. Like they said, the solution is hard to find, but the youth of today may be the people to find it. By having this peace symposium and allowing students to be a part of it, they are educating the youth, paving the way for a brighter future.”
By bringing together the students of tomorrow and instilling them with valuable knowledge about the world they live in today, this group of leaders are building the foundation to a flourishing future where peace all over the world is a reality.