Twenty-three Mater Dei Prep students and seven St. Mary Elementary School students were honored to attend the International Day of Peace at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Friday, September 16. This was the second year that Mater Dei Prep students from the Emerging Global Leaders Program were invited to attend this conference and the first year for St. Mary Elementary School. The International Day of Peace began in 1982 and is dedicated to world peace, specifically the absence of war and violence.
This year, Mater Dei Prep students were chaperoned by the Emerging Global Leaders coordinator George Anthony, English teacher Elana Maloney, and St. Mary Elementary School guidance counselor Katie Anderson. Mr. Anthony has been attending the International Day of Peace for the past 15 years and has developed a strong relationship between the United Nations and the Mater Dei Prep Emerging Global Leaders Program. Every member of the Emerging Global Leaders program has played an active role in the United Nations organizations and will continue to support their mission of promoting a message of peace.
Mr. Anthony shared his thoughts on the conference, saying, “All the messages at the conference were to inspire our youth to take action and to make a difference. Their voice and vote matters, but more importantly, they need to get involved and be the difference. There are many organizations throughout the world that will support their cause.”
Mater Dei Prep students were able to hear speeches presented by the General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon and U.N. Messengers of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, Michael Douglas, Midori Goto, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Stevie Wonder. Students also had the opportunity to videoconference with other students throughout the world to discuss ways on how to promote the message of peace throughout their communities.
Katelyn Grano, a junior at Mater Dei Prep, was moved and inspired by the U.N. Messengers speeches. She said, “To attend the International Day of Peace at the United Nations headquarters in New York City was an extraordinary experience that sparked so many ideas and dreams that I have. Many of the U.N. Messengers, like Leonardo DiCaprio, Stevie Wonder, and Jane Goodall, were extremely inspiring and uplifting. Leonardo DiCaprio explained that when he took his position as Messenger of Peace for Climate Change, he wasn’t sure if it was too late to make a difference, but he took the position anyway and started to work towards helping with climate change. He explained that it’s never too late to make a difference and to work towards the common good. This message truly inspires me not to give up on something that I have a passion for.”
In addition to hearing members of the United Nations and U.N. Messengers address the audience, the Mater Dei Prep scholars were able to take part in the ringing of the Peace Bell ritual. This ritual is performed every year on the International Day of Peace. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon rings the bell, which is made out of melted down bullets and various metal from past wars to symbolize the beginning of International Peace Day and to pray for peace.
The Mater Dei Prep Emerging Global Leaders Program will continue to be active players within the United Nations organizations, with continued support from organizations such as U.N. NGO Pathway’s To Peace. Seraph scholars look forward to attending many events throughout the upcoming school year and working on many group projects with hopes to promote the United Nations message of peace.