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December 2019
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Day of Peace Observed in Buenos Aires with Poetry Prizes and Tree Planting

Spanish

Poetry prizes awarded

“Peace is a possible dream” was the desire and commitment expressed in different ways in the new edition of the International Day of Peace that the UPF Argentina celebrated with an artistic-cultural-interreligious event on September 22 at the Embassy for Peace (Buenos Aires), this year under the motto “Education for Peace.” Prizes were conferred on the winners of the fifth annual International Poetry contest on the theme “Universal love as a path towards peace,” that included 448 submissions from 30 countries.

Peace in the soul

“Education is vital to encourage global citizens and build pacific societies (…) In this International Day of Peace, let’s commit ourselves to teach our sons the value of tolerance and respect”, expresses in the message for this day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared in this celebration by Orfa Pérez, a member of the Peace Council of UPF Argentina, after the greetings and readings of declarations.

Later on, Ricardo Hardoy, Secretary of the Spiritual House of Ramakrishna (Ramakrishna’s Order in Argentina), opened the interreligious prayers for peace with a brief Vedic chant from the Hindu tradition. Then Master Ruying, from the Fo Guang Shan Monastery Argentina (Buddhist Association IBPS Argentina), invoked Buddha in her prayer “to bring peace to the world.” From Catholic Christianity, Father Antonio Cavalieri, Pastor of the Santa Amelia Church and rector of the Argentinean Church in Rome, remembered that “the supreme truth is love” and reaffirmed the mandate: “All become one.” After that, Sheikh Abdelnaby El Hefnawy, from the Islamic Center of Argentina, prayed to the Almighty, and he highlighted the values of peace and education. The Pastor David Calvo, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church, offered a prayer which began with an order of “mercy and forgiveness and a new beginning.”

The twelfth member who completed this symbolic ritual was Carlos Varga, President of the Family Federation for Peace and World Unification of Argentina. He highlighted the “touching moment” of seeing together all the religious representatives as “the seed for an everlasting peace,” emphasizing forgiveness and “love the enemy” that Jesus practiced. He closed by reading a poem that became a prayer: “Crown of Glory.”

All of them went forward to water simultaneously an olive tree, mentioned in different sacred books, which was placed in the center of the stage, as a commitment for life and peace. People from the audience participated representing the Jewish and the Orthodox Christianity communities, creeds whose representatives had been unable to accept the invitation to participate.

“In our hands”

The second section of the program was initiated by Ms. Bertha Bilbao Richter, who in representation of the jury, explained the choice of the winning poems of the 5th annual International Poetry Contest. The rest of the jury was also present for the awards, all of them members of different literary circles: Mabel Fontau, Ms. Liria Guedes, and the poet Donato Perrone, member of the Group “Poetas Livres de Santa Catarina,” some of whose members came from Brazil to participate.

This year, the contest, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture from the City of Buenos Aires, had as a motto “Universal love as a path towards peace” and included 448 submissions from 30 countries. Each one of them was represented by a little flag in front of the stage, from the closest country, Uruguay, to the farthest, Japan, and from the most diverse places, like India, Iran, Israel, and Ghana. Through a wide range of American and European nations, what was outstanding was the quantity of participants from Spain (45); Teresa de Jesús Rodríguez (San Cristóbal de La Laguna - Tenerife – Canary Islands) and Antonio Ayala (Getafe - Madrid) received honorific mentions for their poems “Universal love as a path towards peace” and “Men and love”, and Elvira Sevillano (Barcelona – Spain), was awarded a mention for her poem “Peace”.

Everybody anticipated the moment when the winning poem was recited, which this year was shared for the richness and diversity of the content, and as a message: peace is a shared goal, rather than a competition. “Love as a path” is a “lyrical prescription expressed with beautiful metaphors and images which appeal to the emotion and feelings, pointing love as a life project, a work proposal, a hopeful promise; to sum up, as a path that goes towards global peace, like a sign to transcendence”, expressed Ms. Bertha Bilbao Richter when praising the poem of Raquel Fernández, who has received more than 70 prizes for her literary activity. “And the message is univocal, precise / Peace, peace will be possible / when men and women / give each other’s hands”, finished Amanda Urcola when she recited the poem “In search of peace,” expressed with all her feelings.

Some of the winners, who came from different provinces, expressed their gratitude and emotion when they received recognition for their poem, for their contribution to the culture, which also signifies a substantial contribution to peace. All of them, in addition to the framed diploma, received a bag with books, from the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires; a poster allusive to the International Day of Peace, courtesy of the Center of Information of the United Nations for Argentina and Uruguay (CINU); another bag with books was donated by writers and different entities, 10 booklets with all Contest winning poems published for the occasion and the Autobiography of the founder of the UPF “Global Peace Loving Citizen”.

“Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end; and there is no other way towards peace,” commented Brazilian poet Marina Fagundes Coello at the end of the awards; she was one of the three godmothers of the contest and came from Brazil to participate in this celebration. “Peace is a possible dream. It is only in one hand: our hands. We have to unify them and achieve peace. It is a possible dream, let’s make it come true,” reflected another godmother, Nélida Pessagno, vice-president of the Argentinean Society of Writers (SADE). Juana Alcira Arancibia, founder and president of the Hispanic Literary and Cultural Institute (ILCH), could not be present for health problems and distance.

Original Mandate

Established in 1981 by the UN (Resolution 36/37), the International Day of Peace invites everyone to “reinforce the ideals of peace in all nations and places in the world.” This observance was sponsored by the Juan Agustín Maza University of Mendoza (Resolution 980) and had many institutional accessions, like: UNESCO’s chair of Education for Peace and International Comprehension, the Catholic University of Santiago del Estero, National University of Chilecito (La Rioja), Ombudsman of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, and the Permanent Forum for Education, Science, and Culture for Peace (FOPAZ).

The closing ceremony featured a surprise performance by the Argentina Gospel Choir. This musical style, which was born in the four walls of the Afro-American church in the United States, found a place in our country under the vocal direction of Gerardo Flores, and the artistic direction of Franco Gandullo. Their melodies of grief and hope were interpreted with great passion and movement, which thrilled the audience, who enjoyed this unusual spectacle, which wanted to entertain everybody in this memorable day.

On this occasion, one of the contest’s winners, Esteban Fauret, co-founder of the Circle of Writers from Pehuajó (Buenos Aires), along with Isabel Daibes, representing the literary-ecological program “And they will become trees again,” gave a certificate of recognition to UPF-Argentina in recognition of its efforts and commitment for peace, saying that “they represent a light in our path.” This requires the construction of three bridges: with the Source, with our natural environment, symbolized in the little olive tree watered by everyone at the beginning of the meeting.

WINNING POEMS - FIRST PRIZE

AMOR COMO CAMINO

Para llegar, para alcanzarla.
Para tocar su ruedo poderoso,
obedecer su cielo de palomas,
sostener con un hilo alborotado
su cintura de viento y de raíces.
Para que nazca el trigo, y el vino sea dulce,
y todos los caminos
conduzcan a sus ojos de gacela,
a su camisa tibia,
a su garganta desencadenada,
a su palabra húmeda de pájaros.
Para que ondeen las sábanas más puras,
se cueza el pan más blando
y todos los crepúsculos se vistan de canciones,
de alas, de esperanza.
Para llegar, para alcanzarla.
Para tocar la espuma de su orilla,
recitar su marea,
comulgar con sus peces y sus olas,
remontar sus gaviotas.
Para que el niño ría, y el hombre sea abrazo,
y todos los jardines
sean el escenario de las manos recíprocas,
del sol como destino,
del beso de los frutos,
de la palabra santa.
Amor como proyecto.
Amor como propuesta.
Amor como promesa.
Amor como camino.
Para llegar, para alcanzarla.
Para nombrarla con la lengua más dulce.
Para acunarla.
Para siempre.
Paz.

Raquel Graciela Fernández
Avellaneda – Province of Buenos Aires – Argentina

She was born in Avellaneda in 1967. She received more than 70 national prizes for her poetic activity, given by prestigious national and international institutions. She is the author of six poems: “Eyes that look at the sky,” “Revelations,” “All the men who loved me,” “Brother,” “The old illness of autumn,” and “A Certain Nocturne Condition.” Five of them won prizes and were published by various publishing houses.

EN BUSCA DE LA PAZ

En busca de la paz
salí a buscar a Dios esperanzada.
Iba dispuesta a hallarlo.
Ciego afán desmedido, incontrolado,
ciclópeo, de abrazar lo inaccesible
en bien de los humanos.
Palpé la cruz, los clavos, los traidores,
el sepulcro vacío. Hasta el sudario.
Salí a buscar a Dios una mañana.
Van más de dos mil años.
Hallé a Jehová, al Corán,
a Buda, al rayo,
al fuego, al amuleto.
A Osiris y a Mahoma.
A Alá y a los cruzados...
Iglesias, y pagodas, y santuarios.
Y miles de creyentes.
Infinitos.
Corvos, ensimismados,
poseídos,
de rodillas, orando…
En busca de la paz
salí a buscar a Dios esperanzada.
Van más de dos mil años.
Y lo he encontrado hoy,
tan de improviso.
Tan, tan cerca,
que pude acariciarlo.
Y el mensaje es unívoco, preciso:
La paz, la paz será posible
cuando todos los hombres
se den la mano.

Amanda Marta Urcola
Lincoln – Province of Buenos Aires – Argentina

She is a teacher, a writer, an artist, and creator of short cartoons for children. She won several literary prizes and she published books for children and adults. She is the founder and director of the Enrique Urcola Museum, the first Argentinean museum of children’s art and carnival traditions.

WINNERS OF THE 5th International Poetry Contest - UPF Argentina

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” - UNESCO Preamble (1945)

FIRST PRIZE
“Love as a path”
Raquel Graciela Fernández
Avellaneda - Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

“Searching for peace”
Amanda Marta Urcola
Lincoln – Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

HONORABLE MENTIONS

“And I write peace...”
Zulema Josefina Funes
General Madariaga – Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

“Universal love as a path towards peace”
Teresa de Jesús Rodríguez Lara
San Cristóbal de La Laguna – Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Islas Canarias - Spain

“Men and love”
Antonio Ayala Castejón
Getafe – Madrid - Spain

“Meet me!”
Elena Nilda Pahl
Río Cuarto – Province of Córdoba - Argentina

SPECIAL MENTIONS

“If you talk about peace”
Alba Rosa Contardo
San Martín – Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

“Opening paths”
Graciela Pucheta
Ezeiza – Province of Buenos Aires – Argentina

“Peace”
Hilda Augusta Schiavoni
Inriville - Province of Córdoba - Argentina

“Migrant birds”
Susana Moreno
Bahía Blanca – Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

“Lost peace”
Esteban Fauret
Pehuajó - Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

MENTIONS

“Peace”
Elvira Sevillano Marco
Barcelona – Spain

“They want my verses”
Beatriz Chiabrera de Marchisone
Clucellas - Province of Santa Fe - Argentina

“Exhortative Sonnet”
María Cejas
San Isidro – Province of Buenos Aires - Argentina

“Poem for peace”
Inés Quilez de Monge
San Francisco – Province of Córdoba – Argentina

“Only love can save us”
Cecilia María Labanca
Martín Coronado - Province of Buenos Aires – Argentina

Translation: Ricardo Gómez

Tree planting

An olive tree, a characteristic symbol of peace, was planted in Parque de los Patricios of Buenos Aires on September 21, in observance of the International Day of Peace. The event involved representatives from different organizations, in order to build momentum and commitment, both in words and actions, that can lead to coexistence and solidarity. It was part of a special program organized by the local government to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the district, which began with the raising of the Argentinean flag and the singing of the National Anthem.

The initiative of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Tourism and Services of Parque de los Patricios, UPF-Argentina, and the Cultural and Social Arab League Association was sponsored by UN Information Centre for Argentina and Uruguay. Other organizations also joined them, such as the Federation of Commerce from Buenos Aires, the Argentinean Federation of Communities, the Forum of Communities for Citizens of Buenos Aires; the FOPAZ Association, the Rotary Club of Parque de los Patricios; NGO leaders, Communities (AMOCC); and Faro del Sur.

The olive is a symbol of peace. It also represents life, wisdom, honor, marriage, prosperity, and victory. Formerly, victorious warriors were crowned with olive leaves, a tradition observed during the Olympic Games. The olive tree is also called “immortal” because it transcends a millennium of life. Traditionally, it is considered sacred, mythological, and even magical in many ancient civilizations. Different cultures use its oil for lighting, therapeutic, gastronomic, and ritual applications. The olive appears in legends and sacred books. The Bible contains several references about it. The most significant is the dove with an olive branch in its beak which returns to Noah’s ark after the flood. Jesus was welcomed with olive branches in Jerusalem, and he prayed before his crucifixion in the Mount of Olives, where trees dating back 2,000 year remain to this day.

The crown of olive branches appears in the flag of the UN. It is typical in other banners, coins, and coat of arms of nations and organizations. Olive branches also surround the UPF logo, as a symbol of goodwill and universal peace.

"Education has to promote mutual respect, for the others and for the world we live, and to help people forge fairer, more inclusive, and more peaceful societies." - Message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace 2013.

Photos: Courtesy of "El faro del sur"
Translation: Ricardo Gómez
Submitted by Mr. Miguel Werner, Secretary General, UPF-Argentina

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