2019 Peace in the Streets
By Bethany Newton
In 2018, the Peace in the Streets concept was in its infancy. The event was originally a dream of the Rotary Club of Detroit with the message “Peace in the hood, the home, and the schools,” a sort of catchy way to bring in people who might be interested. The flagship event did very well too, bringing in over 200 community members.
Now that the event is in its sophomore year though, the ante has been upped.
“This year, what’s going to be different is that we’re aiming to have an international trajectory that is going to be including Windsor, Canada,” said Devankar Mukhi, the President of Wayne State University’s Rotoract Club and one of the co-chairs for the event.
With the state of the world currently, the other co-chairs and Mukhi believe extending the conference internationally was not only important but genuinely needed. They are trying to promote “an international approach on peace,” according to Mukhi.
Because of the change of venue, Peace in the Streets will be in Detroit on Friday, October 25th, and then will be in Windsor on Saturday, October 26. The following day on Sunday will take place in Dearborn and will feature awards given out to peacemakers in the community and around the world.
The special thing about the award winners and all of the speakers for the weekend is — well, they are all women.
It wasn’t necessarily intentional, but it’s something that Mukhi is glad about.
“Last year, we felt like we didn’t include as many women or diversity in general, and that’s why this year we really pushed for a diverse panel and keynote speakers,” Muki said.
2019 Peace in the Streets Co-Chairs
Dr. Eric J. Montgomery
Cultural Anthropologist / Faculty, CPCS / Assistant Professor at MSU
Community Dispute Resolution Coordinator / Adjunct Faculty, CPCS
Dr. Fred Pearson
Director, Center for Peace & Conflict Studies (CPCS) WSU / Rotary Club of Detroit
President, Wayne State University Rotaract Club (2017-2019)
Special Events Coordinator, CPCS
Rotary Club of Ann Arbor
Rotary Club of Ann Arbor
Rotary Club of Windsor 1918
Rotary Club of Windsor 1918
On Friday, the speaker might be a familiar one to those who have had their eyes trained on news networks over the past year.
Samantha Fuentes was one of the students involved in the Parkland shooting in 2018. Fuentes did not come away unscathed from that day’s events either. “She has bullet shrapnel permanently embedded in her legs and behind her right eye, and currently manages symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” according to the Peace in the Streets website. Fuentes decided to turn her experiences into a way to help others though. She works with an organization called Angel Faces, which helps young girls who have been involved in traumatic situations. At the conference, she’ll be speaking about gun violence and spreading peace in a day and age filled with seemingly endless mass shootings.
The next day in Windsor will feature two speakers. The first one will be Dr. Sakena Yacoobi who is the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning. Dr. Yacoobi founded the Institute in 1995, and it “was established to provide teacher training to Afghan women, to support education for boys and girls, and to provide health education to women and children,” according to the Peace in the Streets site. She’s also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in the past, which makes her a pretty good candidate to speak at a peace conference.
The last speaker is Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, a Indian-Canadian artist, film-maker, model, writer, social advocate and photographer. She was also mentored by David Bowie, so she’s more than a triple threat. Pal-Chaudhuri actually decided to use her earnings from her many hats and travel to India “to co-found Shakti Empowerment Education Foundation (SEEschool.org), providing education to 300 disadvantaged women and children annually,” according to the Peace in the Streets site.
The speakers alone are an intriguing enough reason to go to the conference, but Mukhi also believes that young people have an especially important duty to start learning how to push peace.
“Me being 21 now, I think it’s very important for young people to go out and go to conferences and be able to hear what’s going on in the community and what’s going on in the world. And it will impact them on a much greater scale than somebody who is older because being young gives us a valuable mindset,” Mukhi said.
It’s an interesting thought to consider. One that young people seem to be latching on to, as already 150 students have signed up for the event, almost matching the total number of people who showed up to the event last year.
Mukhi said that he’s excited to see all the young people come together and exchange ideas. He wants them to not just walk away with fleeting thoughts but a truly better mindset.
“That’s what would really bring me the most happiness,” Mukhi said.
The event is co-hosted by the Detroit Rotary, Ann Arbor Rotary and the Rotary Club of Windsor 1918. For all information, including times and directions, go to rotarypeaceinthestreets.org.
Discover Downriver is a proud sponsor and strong supporter of the Peace in the Streets program.