University of Lynchburg will dedicate a “peace pole” at its Spiritual Life Center, at the corner of Brevard and College streets, at 5 p.m. on September 21 — also known as the International Day of Peace.
The eight-foot-tall pole is inscribed with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in eight languages — English, Arabic, Creole, Hebrew, American Sign Language, Swahili, Spanish, and Cree, an Algonquian language spoken by some native peoples in the U.S. and Canada. It also includes a plaque written in Braille.
“I think symbols are important, a way of enfleshing values,” said Anne Gibbons, Lynchburg’s associate chaplain. “It’s much more important that we live out our values, but one way we live out our values is to have symbols of them.”
Although plans for installing the peace pole were well underway prior to the violence that occurred in Charlottesville on August 12, the Spiritual Life staff believe those events and the ongoing debate about Confederate monuments make the peace pole dedication even more timely.
“It’s in the national discourse right now,” Gibbons said. “There are lots of conversations about things like statues and what they represent and don’t represent. So it seems especially significant in the time that we find ourselves that we are erecting symbols of that which we believe in.”
University of Lynchburg’s chaplain and director of church relations, the Rev. Stephanie McLemore, added, “It’s a symbol of who we are here and our commitment to diversity.”
In conjunction with the peace pole dedication, Chisato Tada, international student advisor at LC, will launch a campus-wide challenge to craft 1,000 origami cranes in celebration of the peace pole and of International Education Week, which will be observed September 25 to 29.
In Japanese culture, cranes are a symbol of good luck and peace. One thousand origami cranes strung together is called a “senbazuru.” Japanese legend says if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you’ll be granted a wish.
“I thought making origami cranes can create a global community together, and this might be an easier way for students, faculty, and staff to learn and appreciate a different culture, in this case, Japanese,” Tada, a native of Japan, said.
“This also sends a powerful message that what we wish for our lives is pretty much the same — peace, love, good luck, freedom from discomfort, etc. — and different cultures have different means to accomplish those wishes,” she said.
“Plus, origami cranes are aesthetically beautiful and show a delicate part of Japanese culture,” Tada continued. “I also want people to know that people can come up with their own interpretation of 1,000 origami cranes. We can have as many meanings about the cranes as the number of cultures and diversity that represent all of us.”
For more information about the peace pole dedication, contact LC’s Spiritual Life Center at (434) 544-8348.