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Poetry Contest Winners Announced on Day of Peace in Buenos Aires


Buenos Aires, Argentina - Under the slogan "Global Family: Dialogue and mutual understanding" the International Day of Peace was celebrated at the Peace Embassy in Buenos Aires with an emotional ceremony bringing together religion, art, and culture. In addition, prizes were awarded to the winners of the third annual poetry contest organized by UPF-Argentina.

Interfaith invocations were an essential part of the program, given that peace is inconceivable without an understanding and cooperation among various spiritual traditions. This year's theme was forgiveness and reconciliation, as a gesture of humility for healing wounds and restoring bonds of trust and brotherhood.

Last year every religious representative lit a candle as a symbol of spirituality. This year water was chosen as a symbol of the communion of life. Water plays a role in many spiritual traditions, whether in baptism or purification ceremonies. Every religious representative came forward with a glass of water and poured it into a common container after offering an invocation.

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Pareshananda Swami, head of the Ramakrishna Order in Argentina, initiated the process representing the Hindu tradition. He was followed by Pastor Santiago Palacios of New Life Ministries and Jose Raúl Cepeda of the Peniel Christian Centre, representing Evangelical Christianity. Father Hernán Pérez Etchepare of the Congregation of St. Paul represented Roman Catholicism, and Eduardo Corales of the American Clergy Leadership Conference represented Unificationism. After prayers, songs, and reflections, representatives from different walks of life came forward with glasses of water to pour into the common bowl: NGOs, politics, media, education, elders, youth, and art and culture.

The idea was to get out of a rectangle of separation and division and enter a cycle of meeting for mutual enrichment and understanding that beyond the differences we are all part of one universal family.

To close this section of the celebration, Carlos Varga, Director of the Unification Movement in Argentina, read a brief message from the Founder of the UPF. "God created a world of love and peace. To insist that only the religion one professes is the way to salvation creates divisions and is not what God wants. What he expects is that everyone in the worlds work diligently for peace, reconciliation and coexistence (...) Only if we transcend our habits and traditions will we experience era of peace."

The second part of the meeting was opened with a musical number by the Family Federation Youth Choir, who performed "Put Your Hands" and "Free Love," which set the atmosphere for the announcement of the winners of the annual poetry contest, with the theme "Global Family: Dialogue and mutual understanding."

At last came the long-awaited announcement of the winning poem: "Utopia," authored by Teresa Gatti from Villa Angela in Argentina’s northern Chaco Province. She delegated her niece, Yanina Ramirez, to receive the award and recited the poem. A retired teacher, Teresa expressed her longing for a utopia where "love will blossom as the Master of all time." This aspiration is for a place "where all of humanity understands the brevity of their existence and the urgency of strengthening ties which bridge the gap” illumined by a “rainbow of hands clasped forever."

While Carlos Varga gave the certificates to the winners, the contest judges gave books donated by San Pablo Press, the Ministry of Culture, and the government of the City of Buenos Aires. The judges included professor and literary critic Bertha Bilbao Richter, author Mabel Fontau, poet Donato Perrone, and Marina Fagundes Coello, Brazilian poet and patron of the competition. They also received a Diploma of Recognition for their outstanding work.

Bertha Bilbao Richter reported that 173 submissions were received including 9 from Spain, 8 from Uruguay, 5 each from Chile, Colombia, and Peru, 4 each from the United States and Mexico, 3 each from Cuba and Venezuela, and 2 from Ecuador. One poem came from Brazil, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Italy, Sweden, France, Portugal and Australia. From Argentina there were 117 participants, 32 from the city of Buenos Aires and the rest from 17 provinces, including the southernmost: Tierra del Fuego.

There was art from start to finish. Carlos Flores sang "Heart Mother," "Ballad of the Prince," and "He Wants Your Dreams." Carlos is an excellent musician, leader of Los Laikas, Latin American artistic ambassadors, who have published 19 albums, 14 in Argentina, 4 in Japan, and 1 in Bolivia. Their work encompasses a broad repertoire movie themes, classic works, and music reminiscent of the Incas.

The message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the International Day of Peace 2011 was read by Ms. Carla Majdalani, Head of the UN Knowledge Management Information Center for Argentina and Uruguay. Also read were some of the many greetings received from organizations in Argentina and other countries by Lic. Rosetta Conti and Alejandro D’Alessandro, President of the Center for Strategic Planning for Social Security and member of UPF-Argentina's Peace Council.

The final music of the evening was offered by the Emanuel Choir conducted by Maestro Hugo Muñoz, a bassoonist who performed in several symphony orchestras, founder of the Kennedy Choir, the Symphonic Orchestra of Cordoba, the Choir of the Faculty of Law at the National University Lomas de Zamora, and the Choir of the Red Cross. Accompanied by Norberto Crispini on the bandoneon, their repertoire included tango music in honor of the winners of the contest. Everyone enjoyed the show.

The intent of the meeting, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, was that each would return home a little richer internally, inspired to work for the cause of peace, because in the words of the UN Secretary-General, "Peace is our mission, our daily effort."


When man takes off his clothing
Of a selfish and mean life
And finds himself fragile, vulnerable and empty.
When the barren territory brings pain, where hatred
Builds resentments that separate and hurt.
When his gaze goes beyond the geography of different faces
And becomes able to give, hand over fist,
Without seeing in the other his own baggage...
When grief hits his innards
And the children's hunger wakes him up,
He will be born to self-awareness,
With seeds of hope. There will be a tomorrow,
Beyond ethnicities, ages and beliefs.
Love will blossom as the Master of all time
And will teach us one day.
And then...
Man will find that the other, like him,
Has a beating heart, that feels, that loves,
That suffers and waits for
A sunrise, where the word is an instrument of union
For building another era together.
When all mankind understands the brevity of its existence,
And the urgency of strengthening ties that bridge the gaps
This will make possible the desired utopia.
The peaceful world
Dreamed by unsung heroes will be possible.
That world will laugh
In a rainbow of hands clasped

Author: Teresa Argentina Gatti
Villa Ángela, Chaco Province, Argentina
Poetry Contest Winner "Global Family: Dialogue and mutual understanding," organized by UPF-Argentina in 2011 in adherence to the International Year of Youth

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