Our last day of school visits. We feel the regret that this great adventure is coming to an end and yet we have the happy feeling of "mission accomplished". We have really run from the heart of Australia to the highest point of Australia in less than 5 weeks, coming from Uluru through the Red Centre down to Adelaide, then following the mighty Murray from the mouth neat Goolwa to the source near Mt.Kosciuszko – and now on to Canberra.
Team A – This morning our team made our way to Blue Gum Primary School in Hackett to meet with the students there. We first went into one of the classrooms to meet with everyone and speak a little about the Peace Run; we were again impressed at how fast each of the countries were guessed! We had a new team member today from New Zealand – Rajpal File – so it was great to hear what he would give as clues for NZ, which was: that their national sport is Rugby and they are the World Champions – and yep, the children got it pretty quickly.
We then went outside to their oval where everyone got to hold the torch and make a wish for Peace.
When asked why it is important that the youth of this world think about peace, one student said it is "because we are young and in our minds we still have peace".
Hastakamala then taught the students Sri Chinmoy's World Harmony Run song, along with the actions. Then the students sang "We are Australian". This is one song that – no matter how many times I hear it – makes me feel Australian and a sense of pride for this great land and its people.
We then ran around the oval.
This school is different from mainstream schools as it centres its values around seeing the students as Competent, Capable, Creative, Responsible, Resourceful & Resilient. There are no uniforms here (something we have not seen for a while). It's great that we can offer such a diverse range of schooling options so that each student can find the perfect learning environment for them: the students at Blue Gum seemed to have found what is perfect for them.
Our second school was at Canberra Grammar Junior School in Red Hill.
Here we met with students from three classes.
Each class had been working on Peace in the lead up to our arrival.
One class had written poetry. Alexander Phillip wrote the following:
“Peace is what you get when you meditate
Peace is the opposite of hate
Peace is something everyone likes
Peace for Mr Gould is bikes
Peace allows people to have life
Peace stops people from getting strife
Peace is everything
Peace will not make things sting
Peace is even in a bee
Peace is also in me.”
- Alexander Phillips
Then some of the students from the other class came up and read out their peace pledges.
Ben Lee: "I promise to listen to my teacher and follow her instructions. I also promise to be nice to my sister and not annoy her and I will empty the dishwasher.
Finn Love: "My Peace Pledge is not to get mad at my sister when she sings 5 seconds of Eminem."
Tom Holmes: "My Peace Pledge is to help my mum when she is sick by cooking and doing chores."
The class as a group had also thought of ways to bring about more peace at home and at school. Some of their ideas were:
"Give people pretty roses."
"If Mum and Dad are stressed on way to school, talk to them in a peaceful manner."
"Meditation for the last 20 minutes of school."
"Reading books with reflective music."
"Sleeping on the lawn with a pet."
"Use soft, calm music to help you think about how we can bring about change."
"Talk to my sister more."
Sebastian and Jordan then came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.
We then all went out to hold the torch and run around the oval.
Tristan then stood up and thanked us for coming. Thank You, Canberra Grammar!
After lunch we made it to our final school of the day and of the Peace Run for this year at Orana Steiner School in Weston. Griffin and Ivalo greeted us ...
... and lead us into the Auditorium.
Here we meet with about half of their 700 students.
When we sang the World Harmony Run song for them they responded by singing a song for us: "Sun in my Heart". It was so lovely to hear their voices – we would have loved to have had their clear beautiful voices with us on the Peace Run.
Griffin and Ivalo then came and accepted the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school ...
... before we all filed out to hold the Peace Torch and make our own silent wish for peace.
A happy and joyful conclusion to our schools visits for the day!
A few of our team then took the Peace Torch to visit Australia's Parliament House. After all, here we are in the Nation's Capital...
Some of the security detail were happy to show their support for the cause.
Team B – Our first school visit of the day was at St. Thomas More's Primary in Campbell. Juliet and Chloe, the School Captains, held the banner while we did the ceremony.
Each team member gives the children some clues for them to guess which country the runners come from.
The kids were very smart and open to the concepts of peace and oneness.
We promised to the students that, if they could guess all our countries, we would sing them a song.
They were very fast in guessing our countries of origin ...
... so we had to sing them the World Harmony Run Song ...
... with help from them surely.
Lachlan and Laura came up and received the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.
We had a very good time with both the students and the teachers who, with the Principal, Margaret Pollard, had their photo taken for peace.
Our second school of the day was St. John the Apostle Primary School in Florey. We got Jackson and Toby to come up and hold the banner during our presentation.
Singing the song together.
These kids were young, years 5-6 and really in the heart.
We played our country guessing game with great enthusiasm from the kids. They all wanted the chance to guess the country.
Feeling a moment's peace.
Tiarne and Brodie received the Certificate on behalf of the school.
Once outside, everyone formed a large circle to hold the Peace Torch.
These kids are really fast runners and we had to try keep up with them. Even though the Peace Run is all about teamwork, when you are young you are more eager to show your capacities!
We left St. John the Apostle Primary feeling very full of energy and enthusiasm, feeling that these kids are really living the message of the Peace Run.
Our third and final visit was St.Vincent's Primary School in Aranda.
We ran into the gymnasium and met with about 190 kids.
We were first greeted with a beautiful prayer that a student read out.
These kids were very bright looking and happy to see us.
They had made very nice messages of peace and harmony that they had put on the stage for us to welcome us.
When asked what peace means, the children said one by one: harmony, kindness, calm, joy, friendship, togetherness and being nice to each other.
It did not take long for these kids to know the runners and find out from what countries they originate, thus winning the guessing game.
Anon and Lachie came up and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Peace Run of behalf of the school.
After watching the Peace Run DVD ...
... we went out to give the kids a chance to make their own wishes and put them into the torch so we can carry them to our next destination.
We thank Darren Roberts for organising this event with us. He has been very supportive of the Peace Run in the past when we visited Holy Trinity School where he previously taught.
Australia is such a vast and beautiful country both within and without. A big continent with an even bigger heart. We will remember and cherish these days of running in the land of the red sand and yellow sun.
Torch carried by Amalendu Edelsten(Australia),
Nurari Merry(Great Britain),
Pranava Runar Gigja(Iceland),
Rajpal File(New Zealand),
Stacey Marsh(New Zealand),