Peace Poems – Maui Celebration

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Peace Poem winners on Maui

Recognizing the importance of peace in our hearts, our families, our schools, our community, and the world, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest recently celebrated its 19th year here on Maui –  The awards ceremony, held on April 20, 2018 at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, presented the winners from approximately 500 Maui County student entries.   I attended this  Maui style celebration:   proud parents and friends brought leis and balloons to recognize the students,  who dressed in their best clothes and had the biggest smiles.

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Proud families

 

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Peace Poem Celebration audience

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Proud family – proud kids at the Maui Peace Poem celebration

The non-violent approach to living in the world continues to be celebrated in one way through the words and insights of the students – in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Here in Hawaii, Melinda Gohn has been the guiding light of the Peace Poem project.

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Melinda Gohn – proud “mother hen” coaching Kihei Kamali’i 5th grader Jackson W. Noble whose poem reflected on gun violence in our schools.

Melinda has help from loyal volunteers.

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Volunteer Pat Rouse (L) checking in Peace Poem winners

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At left, Julia Getty-Gordon opened the celebration by singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”  Mayor Arakawa’s representative  is on the right.

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Melinda and Mistress of Ceremonies, Ayin Adams,

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Audience members – of all ages – came to celebrate and recognize the peace poem awardees

More than 70 students, including four from Molokai,  were recognized for their poems:  thoughts and words of peace.

As part of the ceremony, Melinda had us close our eyes – and imagine the past.

Suddenly, we heard a voice resonate through the hall and opened our eyes to see the august Bryant Neal presenting  Dr. Martin Luther King, J’s  “I Have a Dream” speech!  Fantastic!!

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Bryant Neal – presenting “I Have A Dream”

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Melinda Gohn, contest director, a student winner,  and Ayin Adams, Mistress of Ceremony

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Melinda, Olena Rondeau, who earned the grand prize  for her poem, and Ayin

The Maui County grand prize for her award-winning poem “I Am Running” went to Olena Rondeau, a 4th grader at Roots School of Maui.    She was present with a canvas painting donated by Maui artist Davo.  Of the poem, Melinda Gohn said in The Maui News article about the event, “Rondeau’s poem uses immediacy with unusually perceptive images and metaphors to create an experiential poem uniquely reflecting Hawaii and the innocence of a planet at peace” ( May 6, 2018 p. B8).

I Am Running

I am running through a gardenia scented twilight

Beneath a raspberry, dark blue and purple sky I am running . . . .

Above me, a canopy of stars

Millions of tiny pinpoints of light

Shining in the night. . . .

Suddenly a meteor streaks across the sky

Red-yellow flames light up the night.

The falling star reminds me

that the world is full of magic”

by Olena Rondeau.

At the ceremony, Gwyn Gorg, President of the African Americans On Maui Association, congratulated Rondeau and all the contest winners and spoke of the importance of a peaceful Maui community.

Hawaii Governor Ige provided certificates for top winners, Mayor Alan Arakawa gave all winners a certificate, and the International Peace Poem Project gave a prize poster commemorating Dr King.

All the islands have such award ceremonies.  The Molokai awards are set for May 30 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m at the Molokai Library; the Oahu awards are June 9, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

Congratulations to all involved for recognizing the importance of peace in our hearts, our families, our schools, our community, and the world.

Aloha (in light & peace),  Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

2 responses to “Peace Poems – Maui Celebration”

  1. Patricia B Rouse says :

    What a great review of the event with pix! I couldn’t stay for the whole thing so your report is the BEST. aloha, Pat

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