Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Elementary School & Tamuning Elementary School students in Guam, teachers and staff welcomed ICAP representatives once again to celebrate their 2nd year of having a Peace Project Presentation and Peace Symposium which included TED Talks from the 5th graders and sang “Imagine” by John Lennon and “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.
Both schools have a regular educational approach of focusing on ‘project-based learning’. After students study a topic, they then take action in the form of project efforts to better realize and assimilate the concepts that they have learned.
This year’s Peace Project themes (as represented via decorations on each grade level’s classroom door) included “Building an Arcade of Peace” (Early Programs), “A Garden of Peace” (Kindergarten), “Peace Tree” or “Ornaments of Peace” (1st grade), “Peaceful Minds” (2nd grade), “Oceans for Peace” or “Environmental Peace” (3rd grade), “Hearts of Peace” (4th grade), “Acts of Peace” (5th grade), and “Culture of Peace” (Chamorro class). Theme projects included artwork, performances, creation of peace-themed games, research of individuals who advocate peace, thoughtful consideration and commentary on peaceful actions and behaviors related to the “Choose Kind” movement (“Given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”) originating from R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder, and depictions of Chamorro Latte stones bearing messages of peace in the Chamorro language.
At the culminating Peace Symposium, the ‘TED Talks’ presented by members of the fifth grade class to the entire student body of both schools included the following topics:
- Considerations of Martin Luther Kings “I Have A Dream” speech
- Discussion on the Human Rights activism titled “The Civil Rights Trio” on the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela ( ‘The Civil Rights Trio’)
- The question of “What Is Peace?” including:
- Descriptions of various behaviors of peaceful action;
- Formal definition of peace (‘…the freedom from disturbance and the freedom [arising] from the cessation of war and violence.’; ‘…quiet and tranquility…’); and
- Peaceful approaches to ending racism; and
- The ability of individuals to find common ground to resolve conflict.
To kick off the Peace Project, LBJ & Tamuning Elementary school were able to view the “Ghandi, King, Ikeda Exhibit” that were displayed in their schools. Before the students viewed the exhibit, each teacher gave the classroom a brief history of each man, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda and how they contributed to peace in the world.
Principal Carolyn Camacho was asked if having the Peace Project for the second year had made any significant impact on the students, Camacho replied that there have been less fighting incidents in the playground and students are using their words and engaging in dialogue to communicate when they are upset. Camacho also mentioned that it is not just the students who practice peaceful acts, teachers and staff also do the same to promote a peaceful environment and lead by example.
Camacho also commented that having the TED Talks inspires the younger students to look forward to participating in their own TED Talks when they become fifth graders.
A supporter of the Symposium (co-sponsored by International Committee of Artists for Peace) observed that, “The two schools exhibited ICAP’s mission by promoting art, music, creative writing, and sharing their thoughts on significant individuals who stood up for equality, justice, harmony, and peace.”
One audience member stated that she “…was so inspired how the students, teachers, faculty, and staff of LBJ and Tamuning Elementary School through their Peace Project Presentation and TED Talks were able to teach peace, make peace, create peace, and be an example of peace to Guam and the world.”
(ICAP offers its heartfelt appreciation to Kathy Alegria and Stewart Clayton for the article, and Kathy Alegria and Carol Clayton for the photographs.)