ICCTA Gandhi/King Peace Essay Scholarship

Annastaja Buffington

Heartland Community College
2024 Recipient

Harmony in Action: Cultivating a Campus Culture of Peace

In a world where the echoes of inequality still resonate, the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stand as beacons of hope, guiding us towards a path of peace and understanding. Their unwavering commitment to nonviolence in the face of oppression offers not only solace but also a powerful blueprint for confronting modem societal challenges. As a community college student, I propose a comprehensive plan to educate my peers on the pervasive nature of discrimination and the compelling need for a nonviolent response. Drawing inspiration from the lives and legacies of Gandhi and King, this plan will illuminate the scope of the problem and foster a campus-wide dialogue on the principles and efficacy of nonviolent action as the cornerstone for lasting change.

To bring the philosophies of Gandhi and King to life on our campus, we'll start with a series of interactive workshops. These sessions will delve into the history of nonviolent movements, examining key moments like Gandhi's Salt March and King's Birmingham Campaign. We'll explore their speeches and writings, such as 'My Experiments with Truth' and 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' to understand their strategies and the moral foundation of their actions. By analyzing these historical contexts, students will learn the power of nonviolent resistance and its relevance in today's society. This knowledge will empower us to craft our own responses to injustice, rooted in the dignity and respect that every individual deserves. Through this educational journey, we aim to cultivate a campus ethos that mirrors the respect and peace championed by these great leaders.

Following our workshops, we will put theory into action with a 'Week of Peace.' This week-long event will feature different peaceful activities each day, such as a 'Kindness Rally' where students can share acts of kindness they've witnessed or performed, and a 'Cultural Appreciation Day' to celebrate the diverse backgrounds on our campus. Each event will be an opportunity to practice nonviolent principles in real-world scenarios, fostering a campus culture that actively rejects violence and promotes understanding and empathy. By the end of the week, we hope to see an increase of student engagement and a stronger sense of community, marking the beginning of a sustained commitment to nonviolence.

As we draw our initiatives to a close, we reflect on the profound lessons of Gandhi and King, whose legacies have guided our journey. From the interactive workshops to the Week of Peace, our campus has become a living canvas, illustrating the strength of nonviolent action. We've seen firsthand how education sparks change and how each peaceful act contributes to a greater collective impact. Our commitment does not end here; it's the beginning of a sustained culture of peace and understanding. Let this be our pledge-to carry the torch of future generations to come. Together, we've sown the seeds of change, and with continued care, they will grow into a mighty force for justice and harmony.