If you want to build a house you start with one brick, if you want to build peace why not start with one day? A moment for combatants, for rival factions and for divided communities to stop and pause, to consider their actions to make peace possible. Peace Day is a chance for schools to renew their pledge to end bullying; for humanitarian agencies and NGOs to reach the most remote areas; in some parts of the world it can be the difference between life and death.
Peace One Day works to institutionalize Peace Day, a day which is now an annual marker that individuals across the world can rally around. With the objective of institutionalizing Peace Day and inspired by a 70 percent recorded reduction in violent incidents on the day in Afghanistan according to the United Nations Department of Safety and Security, I launched the Global Truce campaign: a global effort to mobilize the largest gathering of individuals in the name of peace ever on one day -- Peace Day, 21 September -- and as a result measure a reduction of violence globally.
From the beginning of Peace One Day's journey, young people have always been central to the day's long-term success. It is crucial for them to understand that Peace Day is not confined to combatants in distant international wars. Peace Day is relevant to all levels of society and applies to each individual's own behavior and decisions in their everyday life. Violence affects everybody whether in the home, school or wider community. Domestic violence undermines peace in the home and bullying undermines it in the school. Thus, a key aspect of Peace One Day's work is in education and anti-bullying.
With the help of Skype, Peace One Day was able to develop the Global Education Resource to support the teaching of peace in classrooms worldwide. This free online resource is available in the six official languages of the UN and has so far been accessed by 14,000 educators in 197 countries. Thanks to Yudu Digital Media, the Resource is fully interactive, allowing educators and students alike to immerse themselves in issues such as global citizenship, the United Nations, great peacemakers and more. At no time before in human history has the technology been available to enable peace education to reach so many young people around the world.
A middle school teacher in Groton, Massachusetts used the resource with the school's Bookmakers and Dreamers club. Using Skype, the club's members then had the opportunity to speak with a group of students in a village in Afghanistan where a military raid killed 15 people. Several of the Afghan students said peace meant feeling safe, a quiet time to think and be themselves. Many remarked that they had never known a peaceful time; their entire lives had been scarred by constant violence. Many of the Groton students remarked how close they felt to the Afghan students through the sharing of such poignant and emotive stories.
Stories such as this demonstrate the incredible connections that are built through communicating across cultures, faiths and circumstance. I am keen for Peace One Day's Education Campaign to help build more such connections in the future. As part of the 2013 campaign, my goal is to get the Global Education Resource into as many classrooms around the world as possible, in order to mobilize a generation in support of Peace Day. This goal is being championed by Skype and supported through an innovative crowd-funding platform, www.skypeforpeace.org. This initiative, enabling financial contributions to be made to support Peace One Day's Education Campaign, was launched by Tony Bates, President of the Skype Division of Microsoft, at our Wembley Arena concert with Elton John on Peace Day 2012. The results of this crowd-funding effort will be revealed on November 27 as a part of Skype's commitment to #GivingTuesday.
I believe technology can be the catalyst to inspire young people across the world to be the driving force behind the vision of a united and sustainable world.
This blog is part of our #GivingTuesday series, produced by The Huffington Post and the teams at InterAction, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, and others. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday -- which takes place for the first time on Tuesday, November 27 -- is a movement intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note. Go to www.givingtuesday.org to learn more and get involved.