A message on International Day of Peace by Peru Country Manager, Daniel Salazar.
Just days after North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test yet, the world got some hope for peace when the U.S. and Russia agreed to a ceasefire in Syria. But now that the ceasefire is in the brink of collapse and we see attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere, there seems to be little to celebrate on September 21st, the International Day of Peace. While this might be true, we can still celebrate those people who are just like you and me who wage peace in practical and meaningful ways throughout the world. Gary, a retired pharmacist from Minnesota, is doing just that in Poland today.
As practicing Catholic, Gary said he regularly prays for peace, but he yearned to turn his prayer into more practical actions. When he first served in Poland in 2013, he did not know exactly what would come up of this. But after he served there teaching conversational English to children and teenagers, he has not stopped going back year after year. What came out of this service program then? And how could teaching English to teenagers have anything to do with promoting peace?
“I used to pray for peace. But you can do something more practical too. When you serve in a different culture, you make friends, and through that you are working for peace.”
Gary explains that as you serve in a foreign culture, and as you get to talk to people and get to know them, you discuss issues respectfully and accept their views on things. You make friends, and you realize that people, regardless of cultural differences, still are people just like yourself, with similar needs and dreams. In fact, their lives are not that different from yours despite material or cultural differences, Gary maintains.
Gary also mentions his personal fight against stereotypes he has encountered of Americans being against foreign people or anti-immigrants: “There are many Americans who welcome immigrants and believe that they also have a right to come to the U.S. and live respectfully. We shouldn’t live on the basis of fear; they shouldn’t live on the basis of fear, ” he adds. When one welcomes others, and works with others (in a different culture), that creates friendships. Those friendships are the basis of understanding and what reduces the fear of violence and brings peace.”
“We shouldn’t live on the basis of fear; they shouldn’t live on the basis of fear.”
Gary is turning prayers into reality. He wages peace as a “citizen ambassador;” he’s doing his part. He’s chosen to invest in other people, to learn from others while he teaches, to serve, and in that he is gaining. He has had the chance to wage peace, and he has taken it. You can wage peace too. Join us around the world and see how significant you can be in the cause of peace.