Have you ever seen that pole in front of the College of Arts and Sciences on your way to class in the morning?
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It’s a simple wooden post with one phrase written in six different languages, planted outside the College of Arts and Sciences complex. This frequently overlooked feature of our campus is called a Peace Pole.
A Peace Pole is “a hand-crafted monument that displays the message and prayer ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’ on each of its four or six sides, usually in different languages,” according to the official Peace Pole Project website.
Even for those students who are familiar with the concept of Peace Poles, it is not widely known how ours came into existence.
The Peace Pole has stood outside CAS since 2003. Political science professor Scott McLean was present for the “planting” of this pole. He and his service learning students were driving forces behind this project.
During the 2002-2003 school year, Quinnipiac students and professors held a service learning project for the middle school students at the Highville Mustard Seed Charter School in Hamden. These young students participated in a Model United Nations simulation with the help of Quinnipiac students.
The first Model UN simulation at Quinnipiac took place in the Piazza on May 3, 2003. The middle school students arrived on campus to partake in political roleplay, research international issues and conduct a deliberation on these issues. The students then, with the help of professor Crystal Brian in the theater program, put on a play portraying a peaceful environment for the Quinnipiac University community.
“The Pole was meant to symbolize the partnership between Quinnipiac University and the Highville Mustard Seed Charter School in Hamden,” McLean said. “It was meant to symbolize our shared concern with peace and justice – not only in the international community, but also in the Hamden community.”
Together, the groups worked to establish unity and peace in our campus community through this project.
“During their Model UN simulation, we had a nice ceremony to recognize everyone and a ‘Pole Planting’ ceremony where the kids broke ground in the spot where the Pole is now,” McLean said.
This Model UN event continued annually for the following three years.
Although the Quinnipiac Peace Pole arrived in 2003, the original idea was established long before that.
“The Peace Poles idea originates in Japan, as a response to the atomic bomb[s] dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945,” McLean said.
Over time, 180 countries acquired Peace Poles. They serve as reminders to work each day toward world peace. There are now tens of thousands of Poles spread across every continent in the world.
Peace Poles often state the prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in the language of its country, as well as several others. The Quinnipiac Peace Pole proudly proclaims this message in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Hausa and Japanese.
This website displays images of Peace Poles in the United States as well as countries such as Pakistan, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Japan, New Guinea, Egypt, Afghanistan, Yemen, Barbados, Nepal and the Philippines. At the time of each planting or soon after, a Pole Planting ceremony is held, similar to the one recounted by McLean on our own campus.
Courtney Hart, a freshman in the physician’s assistant program, says she had never noticed our Peace Pole on her regular walk to and from the CAS complex. Some elements of a peaceful university community are being accepting of differences, trying to be more understanding and creating an open and peaceful environment, Hart said.
“I think coexisting and everyone has different beliefs and ideas but everyone should be able to respect that and make everyone feel comfortable where they are,” she said.
The official Peace Pole Project elaborates on the planting of a pole saying, “When you plant a Peace Pole in your community, you are linking with people all over the world who have planted Peace Poles in the same spirit of peace.”