Peace Festival Highlights Service and Art Projects
Written by Michael Balcomb, Communications Director, UPF
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
In a dramatic display of national pride and unity, the citizens of Mongolia made a clear commitment to peace and prosperity at the Global Peace Festival in Ulaanbaatar on September 9. Just a few short weeks after disputed elections threatened to bring this historic Asian nation to the brink of civil war, Sukhbaatar Square was once again filled with thousands of noisy Mongolians. But this time, they sang and danced for peace.
The festival marked the culmination of a citywide service effort; a youth arts competition; speaking, dancing and song contests; and an International Leadership Conference drawing delegates from Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
“Mongolia, Eurasia, and the whole world need a new vision of peace for the 21st century,” said Universal Peace Federation co-chair Dr. Hyun Jin Moon in his keynote address. “Unlike the secular thinking of our recent past, it should be a spiritual vision, rooted in universal values.”
Building a Culture of Service
With nearly 50 percent of Mongolia’s population now jostling for space in the capital, the children of new arrivals are most at risk. The Women’s Federation for World Peace has been providing schooling, clothing, and meals at the Yargui Kindergarten, which is the only school for hundreds of families living in near-slum conditions on Ulaanbaatar’s dusty outskirts. Volunteers from the Global Peace Festival removed rocks from the school grounds and worked with the children to paint cheerful murals pointing to a better future.
This was part of a citywide initiative encouraging youth to take responsibility for their neighborhoods and their cities, including a cleanup day that attracted more than 11,000 volunteers. “It’s more than just an aesthetic choice,” said Ulaanbaatar planning director Delger Bayar, “Projects like this can help us all realize that we must take responsibility together.”
The Global Peace Festival is creating a new sense of civic pride in cities around the world. Even small acts of service help create a new culture of cooperation and involvement.
International Leadership Conference
In addition to widespread civic action, the Universal Peace Federation is committed to leadership education as an important step in bringing peace. With the conflict in the South Caucasus on everyone’s mind, the International Leadership Conference, attended by 250 delegates from 38 nations, including more than 20 former heads of state and senior government ministers, considered possible options.
“We need to find a better way to choose better leaders,” said the Hon. Stanislav Shushkevich, former president of Belarus, “and better ways to interact with our neighbors.” The conference also included sessions of the Mongolian Peoples’ Federation for World Peace that examined the legacy of the golden age of Mongolia under Chinghis Han and the role that Mongolian family traditions might play on a larger regional stage.
Despite rain and a chilly breeze, a large crowd assembled for the finale celebration in Mongolia’s most famous public space. Anxious to help rather than just be spectators, many had participated in the earlier service projects; some had added a donation to their ticket purchases. The event was broadcast by the Ulaanbaatar Broadcasting System.
“This is the start of a better day for our country,” said UPF Mongolia Secretary General Enkhtaivan Chinzorig. “Our challenge will be to take this momentum and work for lasting change.”
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