Peace walk steps out on campus
A group of UH students and volunteers gathered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Lynn Eusan Park for the first Peace Walk, organized by the Student Government Association and Peace Worldwide Organization.
“Right now, our focus is awareness,” said the founder of PWO, Mehdi Alavi, who graduated from Texas Tech University and received a Master of Business Administration from UH in 1982.
Alavi’s organization is a nonprofit, and he created the “Civility Report,” which is a document that “grades” more than 120 countries in the United Nations on democracy, peace, and human rights to determine a “civility score.”
“Knowledge is power,” Alavi said.
The event was almost held at Texas A&M University, but UH won out because it is the most diverse campus, said SGA president Cedric Bandoh.
PWO African Ambassador Sam Dike, a former SGA president, was also present. Dike was the facilitator, using his ties to UH and PWO to bring the two together and create this event.
“Dr. Alavi approached me about a year and a half ago,” Dike said. “I was absolutely on board because it was a great mission. Peace begins from within.”
Alavi also talked about reaching out to start chapters elsewhere.
“We’ve been talking to China, Kenya and two other countries,” he said, “because implementation is the next step.”
The next chapter would most likely be in Kenya, Alavi said, because they already have connections there with a man who ran an orphanage filled with over 400 girls.
“Educating girls and women is important,” Alavi said, “because they will teach children.”
“I love grassroots efforts,” Dike said, “because it starts with you. Grassroots movements build a sustainable future because more people are involved and that pushes things forward. It builds a movement.”
About three student organizations came out to show their support, said Mark Solano, the director of External Affairs from SGA.
“If this turns out well,” Alavi said, “we will hold it at the University of Houston every year.”
The walk started off with opening statements from Sonia Azad from ABC13, who then brought Dike, Bandoh, and Solano to the stage to talk about SGA’s goals.
Afterwards, members of the four student organizations talked about why they were there and their goals for their respective groups.
Thony Ngumbu, an Impact Congo Student’s Association member, and a GLOBAL member spoke.
Kevin Lacson, accounting junior and concerts chair of the Student Programming Board was also representing his organization, and kept the walk alive with his beats.
“I’m happy to bring music in the name of peace,” Lacson said.
After a three-mile trek around the campus, starting from and ending at Lynn Eusan Park, Dike took the microphone and got back up on stage for closing statements.
“I’m going to challenge you today,” he said. “Dedicate your life to giving to others.”
The walk ended with a surprise performance from Alavi’s daughter, Sarah, with her song, “Dream of Peace.”
The Civility Report can be accessed for free at www.peaceworldwide.org.