Jeremy Gilley is the Founder of Peace One Day, a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster global peace, understanding and intercultural cooperation. See how Peace One Day uses Skype to help accomplish their mission: http://peaceoneday.org/skype-projects/
I traveled to Gymnasium 164 in Zelenogorsk, Russia for the second of Peace One Day’s PeaceTalks, a program that connects young people around the world through Skype in the classroom to share stories and discuss how to build a more peaceful and sustainable world, with Peace Day on September 21st at its focus.
Getting there proved to be one of the biggest challenges. Flying to Moscow from London was just the start. What followed was 17 hours of flights and road trips leading my team and I further into Siberia, until finally arriving to our destination in a region the size of seven United Kingdoms, Zelenogorsk.
Formerly known as Krasnoyarsk-45, renamed as Zelenogorsk in 1992, the town was built to support the soviet era uranium enrichment plant that was built as part of the soviet nuclear program. Although the plant has since been transformed into a power plant, the town remains a ‘closed town’, requiring guests to be invited and go through a vigorous security screening process. It was an incredible honor to be given access to this fascinating part of the world.
I was humbled by the town’s warm welcome, and as I spoke with more and more people, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of excitement surrounding Peace Day on September 21st. During my jam-packed schedule, I met with the mayor, teachers and the education department of Zelenogorsk, to discuss the free Peace One Day Education Resources, available in the 6 languages of the United Nations. The enthusiasm of the town was outlined by the interest of the press. Newspapers, radio, and television were all represented at the morning press conference, spreading the message of Peace One Day and Peace Day all across the town. Prior to the PeaceTalk at School Number 164, I took part in a public discussion at the local library and was blown away by the dynamic discussion and questions asked of me by the packed room.
Soon, it was time to start the PeaceTalk between young people at Gymnasium 164 and Brentwood County High School in the UK. As the Skype video call connection was established enabling a crystal-clear line of communication between classrooms separated by thousands of miles, the young people were eager to learn more about each other and Peace Day.
Peace Day is established as a day of intercultural cooperation, and after watching the schools connect, ask questions, and actively learn from one another as they shared ideas about what they can do to mark Peace Day, I could see the next generation of peacemakers being inspired into action. As the event drew to a close I knew that progress had been made and awareness raised. Our goal for 2013 is to increase awareness of Peace Day by reaching 600 million people, with at least 4% (24 million) behaving more peacefully as a result. With the support of Skype and schools like School Number 164 and Brentwood County High School, I believe we can accomplish this goal, making the institutionalization of Peace Day within our reach.