By Brooke Schultz
Washington College’s inaugural Peace Week kicks off today, with several events planned throughout the week.
The week of events, hosted by the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Intercultural Ambassadors, is meant to be a way for students to connect with positivity in their everyday life, said sophomore Isaiah Reese, who developed the event.
“When you look at the world, take the news for instance: all we see is a bunch of negativity,” he said. “We never look at the positive; we never look at the good. … We on campus can take a moment to reflect on peace. We have to start within ourselves. It’s a great thing in the campus to aim for.”
Dr. Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina, director of Intercultural Affairs, said that the timing of this event is perfect.
“In our busy lives, we don’t take time to just pause or reflect or just sit in peace,” he said. “It’s needed. This time in the semester is stressful.”
The week begins today with a student-led conversation about spirituality in the Hillel House at 6:30 p.m. Reese has dubbed it “God talk.”
“It is to give students the opportunity to have an intellectual conversation about whether they believe in God,” he said.
Reese said that spirituality is important to him, and he was inspired by his philosophy courses where students spoke openly about their beliefs and found they had more in common than they initially thought.
“It will take away some of the barriers we initially have,” he said.
Monday, Nov. 13, is dedicated to mental health.
“In order to maintain peace, you have to have good mental health,” he said. “We’re just spreading awareness of the importance of it, what good mental health looks like.”
In Caroline House, they’ll have pamphlets, and the group is bringing in serious reinforcements: Puck, the College’s therapy dog. They also have support from Counseling Service and Dr. Miranda Altman, said Dr. Laurenceau-Medina.
The following day, on Nov. 14, there will be a screening of “The Secret” in Sassafras common room around 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.
Reese said he had recently watched the documentary, which is about the importance of your thoughts and your innerness.
“A lot of people feel like they don’t have control of their own lives,” he said. “This documentary reassures that you do control your life outcomes. It’s basically philosophers, metaphysicians, authors, visionaries all coming together and giving their own viewpoints on what the secret actually is—how your thoughts affect your life.”
Wednesday, Reese said, is his favorite. Nov. 15 is dedicated solely to inner peace, he said.
“We’re asking students all around campus to give us a response [about] what they think inner peace looks like.”
Out of the responses they receive, they’re going to create a cohort of peace advocators, he said.
“The peace advocators will be those who can help out the Intercultural Affairs Ambassadors. Basically, that puts you in line to become an Ambassador the following semester,” he said.
To submit a response, students can email Reese, any of the Ambassadors, as well as Director of Intercultural Affairs Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina and Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs Tya Pope.
Thursday is an open day for reflection. Because it’s the program’s first year, Reese said that there will be time for feedback so they can improve next year.
Wrapping up the week is an interfaith service at the Hillel House at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 17.
“We just ask you to take that hour to be peaceful,” he said. “You can meditate, pray. Just take an hour of solitude and reflect on how the semester is going. Clear your thoughts for the most part.”
Dr. Laurenceau-Medina encouraged all students, faculty, and staff to take part of this event in particular, as it can be done remotely and peace can be found in an individual’s own way.
For questions about Peace Week, email Isaiah Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.