There are so many events and projects at AKS that feel uplifting, often involving collaboration between students, colleagues and community partners. There is real innovation and energy in hatching ideas together that can grow and evolve into the future.
The planting of our peace pole was one such occasion. Our great friend, Councillor Karen Henshaw, came up with the idea; and sourced the beautiful piece of Scottish larch with ‘peace be with you’ written in various world languages. We were delighted to welcome representatives of many faiths to come and share their own messages of peace. Our multi-lingual students said the same in many tongues, others spoke and sang on a similar theme. We planted the pole under some trees that I hope will become a space of reflection and contemplation for our students in the future.
At one point we were invited to say ‘peace be with you’ in any language we chose to the people closest to us. Hoping to impress my neighbour, John McVitie, I decided to say it in Thai. The problem was that I couldn’t remember the word for ‘peace’. I tried Mei mee bunhar (no problem) gup khun (with you). No, that’s more like ‘no worries’ as said by my Australian friends. Kwam Suuk (happiness) gup khun? Not quite the same. Mind you, why was I worrying, John hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. He looked at me sympathetically, it’s the thought that counts.
And isn’t that the whole point? It really doesn’t matter what language or words are spoken, nor the religious beliefs of speaker or listener. The concept of peace transcends all human differences. As Karen herself said (quoting the late Jo Cox) ‘we have far more in common than things that divide us’. Recent news stories from New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the Middle East, as well as closer to home, show that we can never take this for granted.
There is now a small, quiet and recognisable corner of the school grounds where I hope our young people will be stimulated to find their own moments of peace. Regardless of creed, colour or language.
Khor kwam sangob suuk jong mee dae khun.
M H P Walton