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1,163 cranes for peace at UAlbany

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By Hannah Brigida Infantado

The University at Albany Interfaith Coalition held a candlelight vigil at the small fountains in front of the Campus Center. Students gathered despite the cold Saturday night to witness the first peace vigil at UAlbany.
“We are here tonight because, statistically, we are lucky enough to have woken up this morning and been alive. We are talking about peace, plans for peace, and how to be more peaceful students on campus,” Derek Healey, president of the Interfaith Coalition, said. He is a sophomore who is studying anthropology and religion.
The goal was to make 1,000 peace cranes in time for the vigil. The story of a Japanese girl who made 1,000 cranes in Japan was their inspiration. Despite some cranes getting stolen, more than 1,163 cranes were made.
“Students… have been folding cranes and helping us get to our goal [since the block party]. Various faith groups on campus were really instrumental in helping us… We were also in partnership with the peace action group on campus. Our focus for this week was to bring awareness to gun violence and hate crimes,” Healey said.
To support World International Peace Week, which began Sept. 21, the Interfaith Coalition hosted activities every day to create a compassionate and more harmonious campus. Students got to sign a peace board to write about mean things which were said to them, in hopes to create greater peace and understanding for each individual.
World Peace Week promotes nonviolence throughout the world beginning on the UN International Day of Peace every year, acknowledged by the World Council of Churches.
“Love yourself and love others. Today we come together, many faiths and many people, in acceptance and love of one another despite our differences,” Jordan Emily Elizabeth Zavesky, president of the Newman Catholic Association and member of the Interfaith Coalition, said.
Many people from different faith groups attended the ceremony, including Cornerstone Campus Ministry pastor Sandy Damhof, Rabbi Mendel from Shabbos House, Muslim Student Association members Nikhil Jain and Swami, and various members of the Newman Association.
The vigil was complemented with peace cranes that hung on strings and covered the grounds near the podium. Names of victims of gun violence were read aloud with a moment of silence and some stories were shared near the small fountain.
“I want everyone ‘to call it when they see it’ when they see oppression. There were so many people in the 1930s and 1940s and throughout history, not just the Holocaust, who saw horrible things going on and didn’t take action or call it out. I don’t want people to just feel peaceful, but to also call out people who are impeding peace because that is the only way to make the world a better place,” Austin Ostro, the treasurer of Hillel, said.
“I’m just so grateful for the turn out and I’m very proud that students on campus realize the importance and value of peace — in the broader world and inner peace. We came together tonight to try to further that dream and make peace,” Rachel Gomez, vice president of the Interfaith Coalition, said.
The peace vigil was Healy’s idea, she added. Many students appreciated the ceremony, saying that the event was beautiful.
“I think it was beautiful, the candles and everything. I loved the atmosphere, it was very peaceful.” Elvis Agborcogo, a senior at Binghamton University, said.
The Interfaith Center strives to facilitate interfaith activities and encourage spirituality for students, faculty, staff and alumni. For more information, please visit http://www.albanyinterfaithcenter.org.

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