Peace Day - September 21, 2008 - 68
Mr. Peace K evin Szawala isn’t just another hip dreamer. His emphasis is on giving people an opportunity to connect through peace-related events, organizations, and workshops. Known as “Mr. Peace”, he’s been key in organizing P.E.A.C.E. Days (Promoting Ethnic And Cultural Equality) in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan. Szawala’s efforts have been promoting a greater respect and awareness of diversity, and addressing issues of acceptance, peace, love and unity. Kevin’s goal is to give people a chance to connect. He will be the first to admit that he is working on one of the largest and most complex issues, but he just takes it one day at a time. His life has shown him that standing up for peace is a key to dissolving stereotypes, racism and discrimination. He arrived at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor not knowing anyone. Surrounded by people with different backgrounds and lifestyles, he seized the opportunity to expand his own horizons. “I have always felt that diversity has never been the real problem, but rather, that a lack of connection has been, and still is a tremendous obstacle that we need to overcome,” says Szawala. His commitment to peace work is grounded in talking with people. Kevin has developed positive media including television programming for the U. Michigan student channel, as well as radio shows that interview people making a difference in their own special ways. He is currently compiling a book titled “A Path to Peace.” Kevin knows that overcoming people’s willingness to talk about peace and to make an effort to break down stereotypes is going to keep him busy. “I am extremely passionate about all of the work I am doing because of the immense impact that diversity has had on my life. I feel that without a true opportunity to connect with others, [people] are missing out on a world of knowledge by not getting out of their comfort zones and meeting people from different backgrounds.” “The biggest challenge we face as an organization and as a society in general is trying to find ways to reach people and convince them that working toward peace and uplifting your fellow man or woman is not only a worthwhile cause, but a necessary duty.” Szawala’s most recent success has been in forming a recognized student group, Brewing Understanding at the University of Michigan By Jason Darling Students Empowering Students (SES) A Student Peace Alliance Chapter at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Kevin had worked to establish the group over several years and is now setting his sights much higher as he learns more from each project. He sees future efforts with the SES that will include: People are missing out on a world of knowledge by not getting out of their comfort zones and meeting people from different backgrounds.” 68 Peace Day 2008
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