In his address at the President’s and Dean’s Lists Recognition Reception on Monday, March 24, Dr. Marlin R. Clark, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, congratulated high achieving students and acknowledged those who have put in a great deal of effort to help SLCC students succeed.
“I know we said let’s shout out for parents, friends and other relatives that have helped you to get to this place,” Clark said, “but I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out also for staff and administrators who were also there for you when you needed to talk about financial aid, when you needed to talk about advising or when you needed some tutoring along the way.”
Dr. Clark quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and he encouraged students to use their education to serve their community and to make the world a better place.
Students honored at the Annual Academic Achievement Reception
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“We know your success is a result of hard work, but your work isn’t over yet,” Clark said. “You are the achievers. People are looking to you for leadership. Where do you go from here? This is important, because you are the change for tomorrow. Whether you like it or not, that burden is on your shoulder, and people are looking to you to guide them because you’ve done what they have wanted to do.”
The highlight of the evening was a presentation given by Adam Dastrup, Geosciences Coordinator and Professor, Charlotte Howe an English Professor, and Kati Lewis the E-Portfolio Coordinator and an English professor at SLCC. They spoke about ways that students can use their education and knowledge to make a change for good and create peace in the world using tools that are readily accessible to them as students.
They introduced students to a movement started by Ronny Edry, an Israeli educator and graphic designer who used social media to circumvent government and politics, and reach out to individuals in other countries who might otherwise be considered enemies.
“It’s important to find something larger than yourself, because then you will have the energy and the motivation to reach the mountain top,” said Dastrup.
This is what Ronny Edry did when he started a movement for peace simply by creating a poster with a photo of him and his daughter and a cut out heart with the words “Israel loves Iran” in bold letters across the front.
Within days the image went viral, and was posted on several international websites including CNN.com. Not long afterward, Edry was invited to do a TED talk. The video can now be found on YouTube and on Ted.com.
“You hear a lot of talk about how Israel wants to do this or that, but the individual people on the ground don’t necessarily feel that way,” said Dastrup. “They’re tired of war; they’re tired the drama. They just want to have peace with the Palestinians; they want to have peace with Iran.”
When Dastrup and Lewis friended Edry on Facebook, they invited him to come speak at SLCC, not really knowing what to expect. To their surprise, Edry agreed to come in March of last year. Since then, many students at SLCC have become a part of the grass roots movement that has become known as the “Peace Factory.”
“We actually brought him here,” said Dastrup. “And there was a nice, large audience. Then he went over to the publication center and helped the students there to create promotions for peace and make their own posters.”
The posters can be seen online along with others from all around the world at thepeacefactory.org. Students are encouraged to make their own posters for peace and share them on the Peace Factory Facebook page, and on their own social media profiles.
“Ronny Edry says you change the minds of people one by one,” said Howe in her portion of the presentation. “The goal of his peace campaign is to come straight to the other side, bypassing the politicians; bypassing the policy makers. When you see all these posters, you think this can’t be the enemy. If we are going to be free of war in this world, we are going to have to start talking to these other guys. We have to stop fearing them.”
Lewis emphasized that peace has to come through individuals, and we can touch others by reaching out to them on a personal level. She said that honors students can use their influence to make positive change.
“The heart thing sounds a little like make love not war, putting flowers in your hair and that kind of stuff,” said Lewis, “but the reason that he uses a heart is because it’s what connects our humanity. Each of us bleed, each of us grieves, each of us cries when our loved ones die, when our loved ones have to go off to war, when they don’t come home or they come home injured. We invite you to do what Ronny does – to use your education to be that change for better in our world.”