The national flags of Iran, France, Italy and 16 other countries lined the walkway of Plaza of the Americas on Wednesday.
UF Mindfulness held a 2-hour long celebration of International Day of Peace, a holiday established by the United Nations in 1981. It was the group’s second time holding it, said Sabine Grunwald, the project leader.
Grunwald said violence exists in everyday life, but people can promote peace in the smallest gestures.
“That can include subtleties, too, like showing a stranger a smile as you’re walking across campus,” Grunwald said.
As the program began at 11 a.m., about 15 people sat on the Plaza of the Americas on a blue tarp mediating. The sound of a gong echoed as they closed their eyes and sat criss-cross or on their knees.
At noon, Azzam Alfurhud and Ibrahim Alfayez, both UF undergraduate students, hoisted the green Saudi Arabian flag. The two students are part of the Association of Saudi Arabian Students.
Along with bearers of the other 18 flags, they marched to the front of Library West, repeating the motto “May peace prevail,” while holding the flags.
Each person who read the motto spoke the language of the country he or she represented, speaking English if he or she didn’t know the language.
Near the flags, an art exhibit, “Victory over Violence,” showed scenes of bullying and injustice. The organization Soka-Gakkai International-USA provided the artwork, wrote Katsutoshi Mizuta, a UF doctoral student, in an email.
While walking through, those viewing the photographs filled out declaration cards, writing down their thoughts on the exhibit. At the end, they took non-violence vows, he said.
He said he hopes students learn to turn negative situations into peaceful ones, Mizuta said.
“The artwork is to empower each person to bring forth the inner positive power so that they can take actions for local peace,” he said.