Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
On April 8, Director of International Student Services Jennifer Marks-Gold hosted a Peace Walk. The walk was in response to a series of world events, such as the recent attacks in Brussels and Pakistan, and its aim was to provide an opportunity for students and staff to gather in solidarity, unity, and reflection.
Marks-Gold opened the event with a statement saying that she organized the peace walk to acknowledge all of the tragic events that she said have plagued our world recently.
“If you turn on the news a see what is happening, it can be really disheartening,” she said. “I thought that this walk would join people together. The reason for it is to support our community and to let them know that there are resources for everybody.”
After a brief round of introductions, Marks-Gold opened a forum as attendees stood in the tranquility of the rose garden, inviting them to share their reasons for participating and what peace meant to them. Junior Class Dean Dion Lewis started the discussion.
“I just think it’s good that we are acknowledging this. We do have people in our community who are impacted either personally or just by what we are witnessing in the media, so I think it is important that we are doing this walk. We should follow it up with some sort of dialogue, discussion and outreach,” he said.
Maurice Eldridge ‘61, vice president for college and community relations, agreed and noted that he is accessible if anyone needs assistance or support.
“To see so much distress in the world is disheartening, but in the face of young people like you, for example, I’m not ready to give up. I have hope,” he said.
Nancy Yuan ‘19, who is studying peace and conflict studies, said, “Even though I wasn’t affected personally, or my family by the recent events that have transpired, I just want to show support for my classmates who have been deeply affected.”
Jordan Sciascia ‘17 described her personal connection to the event.
“I studied abroad last semester in Paris during the attack. It was so upsetting to me and so frustrating. I was so angry and upset but now I really hope that we can do things like this and continue to change things so that people do not have to be in this situation anymore.” She added that the attacks showed her the gravity of the situation.
College President Valerie Smith said, “I feel so fortunate to be able to come together with all of you to stand in solidarity and in honor of all of those whose lives have been affected by the recent events, those who are on our campus and part of our community, but also those who are part of the global community.”
After the forum discussion ended, Marks-Gold thanked those who attended and initiated the walk. Attendees left the Rose Garden and walked towards Parrish.
Before the procession ended, however, Eldridge suggested that they venture to the Peace monument located near the amphitheater. The monument features phrases of peace written in 10 languages. Students, staff, and faculty gathered around it and stood for a moment in silence and prayer. Afterward, the procession headed back to Kohlberg, concluding the walk.
Marks-Gold stated that she was very happy with the turnout, especially given the cold day by April standards. “It was important for the students, faculty, and staff to be here, and it was nice to have everyone represented. Again, I want to do more with this. and I have some more ideas and projects for next year.” She invited anyone to talk to her about any ideas or projects they may have in relation to peace.