Peace BAR Festival 2015 commemorating the 34th UN International Day of Peace was held on September 21-22 at the Grand Peace Hall on the Seoul Campus.
The UN International Day of Peace was first proposed by Kyung Hee University in 1981 at the annual conference of International Association of University Presidents (IAUP). The government of Costa Rica then made the same proposal at the United Nations, and the Day was formally declared by the UN General Assembly. In commemoration of that memory, Kyung Hee has been hosting Peace BAR Festival every year. The acronym "BAR" stands for "spiritually Beautiful," "materially Affluent," and "humanly Rewarding." This year's theme was "On the Possibility of Common Values for Humanity."
"Let us work together to make the Earth peaceful and harmonious"
At the opening ceremony, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a congratulatory video message in which he expressed a hope that on the International Day of Peace all warring parties in the world may lay down their arms and observe peace. After introducing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Secretary-General urged the students and youths in the audience to make efforts for peace saying, "Let us work together to make the Earth peaceful and harmonious in which every person can live with dignity."
"Discover within ourselves alternate horizons of truth, conscience, and value"
In his commemorative speech, President Inwon Choue remarked, "We must find in our heart alternate horizons of truth, conscience, and value as guidance lest we be deluded by artificial pseudo-truth and mammonic lust caricatured by neoliberal globalization. Through self-reflection we must penetrate the ostentatious façade of globalization and capitalistic affluence in order to reach the fundamental truth and humane value hidden behind. Let us embark on a journey to transcend ourselves in which we discuss the images of an ideal future, search for dreams and aspirations, and make efforts for mankind's sustainable tomorrow: that is the challenge facing us today." He then introduced as a guidance for a better future the thoughts and writings of Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia, on the issues of conscience, truth, and civic awareness.
Thirty years ago, Vaclav Havel warned against the strictures of social oppression and distorted ideologies upon people's thought system: "Social oppression alienates humaneness. And the silenced majority in the alienated class sustains social oppression." Havel argued that we can move in the direction of a better future when we listen to our conscience & inner truth and do the duty of citizen.
An investiture ceremony for Vaclav Havel followed. Kyung Hee University posthumously awarded Havel an honorary doctorate of peace study in recognition of his selfless work to promote civil rights and civic awareness in politics in the face of extreme social and political difficulties in the former Czechoslovakia, which the University judged to resonate with its tradition and philosophy in the pursuit of a better future for humanity through scholarship and practice.
"Universities that contribute to the community"
On the second day, a special discussion session was held in commemoration of the UN International Day of Peace under the theme "Future of universities, Politics of future: the world we dream of in the 21st century." Panel members included President Inwon Choue, Un-chan Cung (former President of Seoul National University) and Jaeho Yeom (President of Korea University) who discussed and reflected on the current political landscape, expected conditions for "sustainable life," and how they can be accommodated and implemented in the future of universities and politics in general.
The session began by reflecting on the issues brought up in the "Future University Report 2015." Last year Kyung Hee published the Report in commemoration of the 65th year of university's founding and the 50th anniversary of the first edition of "Kyung Hee Future Report." About 14,500 students participated in the Report through surveys, focus groups, discussion sessions, and public hearings. President Yeom commended the Report saying, "It is significant and meaningful that Kyung Hee has been seriously engaged in conversation with its students for the future direction of the university. The Report identifies a number of issues upon which we need to reflect and improve."
The members of the panel agreed that there can be no future unless universities radically transform themselves. President Choue said, "It is important for universities to make practical and positive contribution to their communities and the human civilization in general." He also called for any such university reform be made primarily from the student's perspective. He remarked, "The Report can be the starting point. When this type of self-reflection and serious engagement with the future permeates every university in the world, we may expect a better future for all. It will be the responsibility of the said future university to furnish an environment in which the young generations can pursue their dreams and aspirations unhindered."
Humanitas College declared September 16 to 22 as the "World Peace Week"
Humanitas College declared the week of September 16 to 22 as the "World Peace Week" leading up to Peace BAR Festival 2015. During the week various programs and exhibitions promoting civic awareness such as UNAI ASPIRE Kyung Hee Peace Forum were opened in celebration of the 34th UN International Day of Peace, and the life and work of Vaclav Havel.
Translated by Tae Hun Kim