May 3, 2013 Live from the road

Melbourne, Vic

Reported by Stacey Marsh, Tom McGuire 18.0 km

The first school to welcome the Peace Run to Melbourne was Huntingdale Bilingual Primary School. We had a chat at the gate about how we might present the Peace Run here.

The students here send 7.5 hours per week learning and speaking Japanese, so they were more than ready to appreciate the international significance of what we are doing.

First up, everyone got to hold the Torch in their school yard...

.. including even the Principal, Maria Williams.

... then it was off!

The kids had been doing cross-country only a few days ago, so we could barely keep up with them as we did circuits of the field together with our Peace flame.

At this school, we introduced a new element into our program, the Peace Run video. What makes this video so useful for schools is that one can see exactly what the Run involves. Footage of the runners carrying the Torch across the plains of Mongolia or along Guatemalan village streets, allows viewers into the real Peace Run experience. The video shows children from numerous ethnic communities all participating in the same event.

This was the first school we have come across where every child who guessed a nationality of one of our runners, got the right answer first time!

Some of the kids' questions – and answers – were both insightful and hilarious.

The school captains were presented with the Certificate of Appreciation...

... after which the students led us on our way. We would like to extend a special thank you to Maria Williams, the other teachers – and all the students – who so warmly welcomed us to their school.

From here we ran all the way ...

... to the beach at Port Phillip Bay – the first time we have seen the sea in our journey around this big, big island.

A breeze, cold to the touch but brimming with life-energy, lifted the runners' spirits as they coasted along a bike path along the Bay. Despite the trees swaying forcefully around us I felt an inner thrill being immersed in the rhythm of the Run.

Our second visit today was to Middle Park Primary, another enthusiastic and eager school who had really taken the Peace Run seriously and prepared for our visit in many ways. All the various classes sat in ordered rows in the schoolyard as we ran in and addressed the students with our story.

A striking banner had been created by the students, which formed a colourful and uplifting backdrop to the proceedings.

Other students held their own art, which had been created using the words of Sri Chinmoy's Peace Run song – 'Oneness-world-heart joy has begun.' Others had made their own Peace Torches!

The students also gave us their 'Pledges for Peace'. They were asked to look into their own lives to see ways in which they can make a difference to the world. Such care and thought was taken in composing these pledges – you could really feel the students wanting to pledge something they really felt they could achieve and in doing so make for a more peaceful world.

All of these pledges were so unique and special we will be carrying them with us to inspire us as we travel this great country.

We would like to share a selection of these so they can stay with you too…

'My peace pledge is to...
Always stay smiling no matter how I am feeling.'

'My peace ledge is to...
Love my family for the rest of my life!'

'I promise to live a peaceful life.'

'I pledge...
Never to bully someone.'

'I promise to be peaceful by...
Being welcoming and caring for others.
Be thankful and grateful for everything I have.
Keep calm when something upsets me in anyway.
Be friendly and apologise for bad things I do.
Never give up!'

As usual, we invited their participation in the song, with actions, and concluded with a run around the schoolground.

From each school, we take some unique experience that we feel deepens our commitment and appreciation of how privileged we are to be undertaking this journey...

The visit concluded with the presentation to us of the hand-crafted banner, which we will carry with us and present in turn to another school along the way.

All the excitement of Middle Park Primary had made us rather hungry, and we were very happy to see our friend Kishore Cunningham, who arrived with a sumptuous lunch which was duly devoured in a nearby park.

Over 300 students from Galilee Regional Catholic Primary School braved the tempestuous conditions to meet us outdoors just before the end of their school day.

Much to our delight, some pupils who had already learnt the shorter Peace Run song joined us on stage. They helped us teach the song to everyone else.

The wind playfully joined in the proceedings by lifting up great chunks of fallen leaves scattered about the schoolyard, and furtively distributing them throughout the seated crowd like sprinklings of garnish.

With such a large group of children, it takes a while for them to all hold the Peace Torch...

... so while they were waiting, the Peace Runners sat down with smaller groups to answer questions and get to know the kids on a more personal level.

Our serene reception at Galilee was a terrific way to end our school visits for the day...

... after which our sojourn through Melbourne continued with a whirlwind tour of the inner city and some of its sights.

We return to Melbourne next Tuesday evening, but in the meantime – we are off tomorrow to Tasmania!

Torch carried by
Abhejali Bernardová (Czech Republic), Drishalu Grunstaudl (Austria), Harita Davies (New Zealand), Helena Mazakova (Czech Republic), Kishore Cunningham (Australia), Prachar Stegemann (Australia), Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), Steve Elliott (Australia), Sukhajata Cranfield (New Zealand), Tom McGuire (New Zealand), Uddyogini Hall (Australia), Varunavi Glabnikova (Slovakia), Vibhita Crawford (Australia), Zina Palic (Moldova).  
Photographers
Abhejali Bernardová, Helena Mazakova, Prashphutita Greco, Steve Elliott
The torch has travelled 18.0 km in Melbourne, Vic.

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