By Wendy Coulson Catalán
Upon landing in Mexico in late April, I hit the ground running. I was asked to share my amazing experience as a recent graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Bangkok at a peace conference organized by our local Rotary club and Camino de la Paz. Soon after, I was invited to participate on the organizing committee for International Peace Day.
There is a huge imperative in the world, and in our little community in Central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, to create peace among our citizens on both sides of a huge social and economic divide. Two years ago, a concerned group of community members came together to promote peace by acting as an umbrella group for all the peace initiatives in town. The group, which includes several Rotary members, calls itself Camino de la Paz — The Way, or Path, of Peace.
The group organized a short conference with staff from Rotary International who talked about Rotary’s efforts to promote peace and held a celebration last year on the International Day of Peace that attracted over 800 people.
Continuing its success, Camino de la Paz will celebrate this year’s International Day of Peace on Sunday, 20 September, with even greater involvement from the community, Rotary members, and now Rotary Peace Fellows.
Peace is possible
Our motto for this year is “Peace is possible and it is inside every one of us.” We have expanded our scope to become a connector between the Mexican and foreign communities, which represent a significant percentage of the population, and between the cultural center and the outlying communities.
For the event, we have united leaders from organizations to take action on peace projects like Allende la Cultura, which seeks greater participation for marginalized youth in the city’s many cultural events. Most of these events happen in the center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are not accessible to the youth in outlying neighborhoods due to cost and location. So Allende la Cultura brings the events to them by holding spinoff activities in their own neighborhoods.
Together with Allende la Cultura, we will start the Peace Day celebration — actually a full weekend — on Friday, 18 September, with a rap tournament in which a well-known rapper from Mexico City will draw in youth to rap their freestyle messages of peace and community. These young people will close the peace day event on Sunday with a performance.
San Miguel’s two Rotary clubs have donated funds to cover the cost of the rap tournament and will display their peace and development projects. We were also happy to receive a donation for the event from a Rotary club in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Peace is possible around the world, but it needs community, Rotarians, and perhaps a Rotary Peace Fellow.
- Join a post-event conversation on the Camino de La Paz Facebook page.
- Learn how you can support the Rotary Peace Centers.
- Watch the video What Peace Means to me.
- Join us for a #PeaceDay chat on 21 September to share what peace means to you. #Rotarychat
About the author: Wendy Coulson Catalán, a March 2015 graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn, is a curriculum developer, instructor and teacher trainer in the areas of peace, health, the environment, and English as a second language.