MARY JO WILDER
ST. CROIX – Wednesday, Sept. 18, students, faculty and community organizations will gather at the University of the Virgin Islands to observe International Day of Peace (IDP). This event hopes to be a continuation of the local dialogue begun in the “Hurt to Healing” forum held this spring in the Great Hall at UVI.
When asked why one should attend, one of the student organizers, Denver Mike, shared, “I believe this form of engagement is crucial for our community – not only to speak openly on such a dire issue, but also to enjoy the camaraderie of a shared goal.”
In 2001, the United Nations officially established Sept. 21 as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.
Just over seven months ago on Jan. 24, the Daily News noted the V.I. homicide rate was still among the worlds highest. It seems the Virgin Islands need their own cease fire.
April 22, former student, twenty-two-year-old Troy Joseph was shot on campus in the parking lot after a college event. Students say there was an argument about a gold chain he was wearing. Apparently the expensive piece of jewelry was gotten through questionable means, and the original owner wanted it back. Many students have reported that Troy was unwilling to give up the chain and lost his life because of it.
This tragedy could have been prevented. The university is not immune to the violence that plagues the island. But, it is not enough to merely call for peace.
Carolyn Keys Alternatives to Violence coordinator and guest speaker for the IDP observance explains that violence is a disease, and we must begin to heal from the trauma of violence or we will continue to implode or explode. Though the subject is complex, there are answers for the healing.
The university’s IDP observance is scheduled from 9 to 11am in the theater (EVC 401). There will be a range of solutions offered that students can begin to work on to heal the trauma in their own lives. Ms. Garcia, staff member in the office for student success, will review the characteristics of a healthy self and thereby a peaceful one.
Serena Sundaram from CommuniChi Central will give a brief overview and demonstration on acupuncture and its use in other trauma sites like New York after 9/11 and New Orleans after Katrina.
Counselor, Patricia Towal, will share ways to ease interpersonal relationships with loved ones.
The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council, DVSAC, speaker will also discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Alternatives to Violence trainer, Xawntoia Franklin will discuss how the AVP training is reducing violence in the housing communities.
Students will also share reactions and pledges to the call for peace.
When stopped and asked what he thought about the event, Professor Gould explained that his grandmother, an activist in her time, used to say, “peace or parish!”