Peace Tree Day, founded by Mitra Sen, is an annual festival for children, youth and families of every culture and faith to celebrate peace, diversity and fusion through the arts in order to help children less fortunate around the world!
Children and youth Peace Tree Ambassadors create Peace Trees that highlight symbols from all our cultures and faiths on one tree to reflect the beauty of ‘diversity in unity’. Mayor David Miller of the City of Toronto and Mayor Michael Di Biase of the City of Vaughan first proclaimed June 1st as Peace Tree Day in 2006. Now other cities, school boards and police services are proclaiming Peace Tree Day. To date the city of Vaughan, Ottawa, Windsor, Stratford, Sudbury, Brampton, Markham, Richmond Hill, York Region, York Region District School Board, York Region Catholic District School Board, York Regional Police and Boston have also proclaimed Peace Tree Day. Peace Tree Day has also been celebrated in Charlottetown, Maryland, Hyderabad, and Jammu/Kashmir, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Buenos Aries, Sydney, Cyprus and Gujarat, India.
If you are starting a club, spread the word and invite students to join your school’s Peace Tree Club in order to create a peaceful inclusive school and community. Assign positions of responsibility to each student based on their talent and passion. (The same concept can be implemented with a class)
Peace Tree Ambassadors should select between 6 – 8 intercultural/interfaith workshops that they will research, in terms of origins, history and how to, in order to share their learning on Peace Tree Day. Youtube is a great resource for students to learn different dances, music and art forms that reflect diversity. All workshops must be presented by students. It is important for students to have their scripts written and checked by their teacher at least four weeks prior to their Peace Tree Day celebration, so they can learn their scripts and be really well-prepared. (Peace Tree Ambassadors who are really articulate, enthusiastic and engaging should be selected as the main workshop leaders) Other students can be workshop assistants. Students should create colourful signs with the title of their workshop along with interesting ‘Did You KnowFacts’ about their workshops on Bristol board drawing images that reflect their subject. Examples of possible Peace Tree Workshops can include…
Peace Tree Day ends with the Peace Tree Concert with students showcasing dances, music, and inspiring speeches and plays to promote peace and celebrate diversity. The dances and music should reflect fusion of different cultures. For example, Kathak and Flamenco dance, Bollywood and hiphop, Bharatnatyam and ballet, tabla and African drumming, guitar and sitar etc. Make sure to select very entertaining and engaging student MCs for the concert. Don’t forget to highlight your school’s Peace Tree on the stage.
Students are all encouraged to wear clothes from their heritage or share clothes with their friends who do not have traditional clothing from their heritage.
All artwork on the stage and at the workshops should be created by students, be very colourful and reflect diversity, peace and art forms from different cultures. (Some décor like Chinese lanterns and cultural table coverings may need to be purchased to add accents)
Make sure you have a good collection of music from different cultures including Calypso, Bollywood, Greek, Salsa, Persian, African, Caribbean, Asian, Flamenco, World Fusion and many more.
Your food also has to reflect the diversity of tastes from around the world. Some of the appetizers that can be served include churros from Mexico, chaat papri and samosas from India, babaganoosh and pita from the Middle East, kappa maki from Japan with soya sauce etc. Write the name of each food, its origins and its ingredients on signs. Please make sure no food contains peanuts. Create a Peace Tree Stand at your food stall where you can sell juice and drinks from around the world like mango juice from India, lychee juice from China, coconut water from Jamaica and lemonade from Egypt. Make your Peace Tree Stand as creative and diverse as you can.
Assemble a good promotions team that starts to spread the word two weeks in advance through creative announcements, posters, your school’s website, newsletters and the school’s Peace Tree Facebook account. Start the announcements with music from different cultures.
All Peace Tree Day workshops and concerts assist students to raise funds or goods for a children’s charity that they have researched and feel passionate about supporting. As students discover the wonders of diversity they also become leaders for social justice issues!
Finally have a very inspiring and fun day celebrating Peace Tree Day in your school and get ready to innovate, educate and donate as you discover the colours of diversity and create peaceful, inclusive schools and communities!