International Peace Day Soccer Game at Germantown Campus.

Students+attacking+for+the+ball+during+a+friendly+green+vs.+yellow+match.
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International Peace Day Soccer Game at Germantown Campus.

Students attacking for the ball during a friendly green vs. yellow match.

Students attacking for the ball during a friendly green vs. yellow match.

Binyam Ephrem

Students attacking for the ball during a friendly green vs. yellow match.

Binyam Ephrem

Binyam Ephrem

Students attacking for the ball during a friendly green vs. yellow match.

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Binyam Ephrem, Staff Writer

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In a week, where the U.S. Secretary of State discussed acts of war from Iran, our delightful school hosted an event for peace. This event brought people from different backgrounds and creeds together to enjoy some soccer matches, Domino’s pizza, and a note-card essay contest. With a clear sky and friendly sun, absent of the area’s notorious humidity, the elements seemed to be in the mood for peace as well. Montgomery College hosted its annual day of soccer matches, known as “Soccer for Peace, for International Peace Day, making this the event’s eleventh year since Professor Sally McClean of the English Department initiated the event in honor of her late husband. International Peace Day is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday observed annually on Sep. 21, 2019, which is dedicated to world peace, the absence of war and violence, and is seen, at times, as a global day of temporary ceasefire in combat areas. The United Nations General Assembly first declared for the commemoration of a day for international peace in 1981, with a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. Its first observation was exactly twenty-seven years ago on Tuesday, Sep. 21, 1982. Although originally planned to be observed on every third Tuesday of September, this provision was changed in 2001, following the September 11th attacks (date on which the twentieth peace day would have been celebrated) by the late former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who drafted a message recognizing the annual observance of International Peace Day on Sep. 21.

Back to Germantown, we were on a small field overlooking Observatory Drive, Professor David Sowards, who prefers Dave, was hosting the entire event. He was everywhere, as the beaming host talking with students and teachers, his tall frame towering over them, encouraging people to write essays on what peace meant to them on note-cards, organizing raffles for prizes, and grumbling over our generation not knowing about grunge bands from the ’80s. Along with his high energy and hearty humor, Professor Sowards also gave words of wisdom when discussing the main purpose behind the soccer match. “I want you to understand that the reason we’re doing this international day of peace celebrations so we recognize that all people have the same values of peace and love and justice and we need to promote that around the world,” he said, breaking from his raffle drawing, with a monologue bleeding with his heartfelt optimism. Professor Sowards also added a warning about how“particularly the light, and the beacon of freedom and liberty is quite dim.” He wanted everyone to recognize that as studentsin such a unique place like Montgomery College, not only should we be happy that we have a place like this, but we should also brighten that dimming light. His main message throughout the event was about the community. After the last soccer match, he told me about the new students he met at the event and highlighted the importance of the term community in community college. He elaborated by adding, “I hope we invite more communities, organizations, teams, churches to come out to the event because it’s a community college, not just the students here but a community.” When I asked him about the state of the world in relation to peace, Professor Sowards talked about wanting to do more for his community and the overall country towards peace and the rule of law as well as being in a constant state of learning. He also remarked “I asked a student of mine why he thinks the country should do anything for poor people, and he said what is the point of a country if that is not what it is for, why do we come together as a nation if its not to look out for the greater good.”

Taking a break from grave politics, the soccer matches were very entertaining. Although not as physical as our beloved MC soccer games (slide tackling was not allowed), the stakes were still high, and referees were still on the lookout for dives and dirty “tackles.” The matches were played between one team with green vests and one with yellow vests. After the first three matches, the Domino’s pizza came in and provided energy boosts for players who were not tired from playing with the afternoon sun beating on their backs. There were a few soccer players from the men’s team who came by towards the end of the day, including a high-profile visit from men’s team head coach, Harvey Livingston.

Although many students, being the hungry, growing monsters they were, may have initially come to enjoy some pizza, their conscientiousness towards the greater message of peace and diversity was not subdued at all. Students applauded at Professor Soward’s words of community and spoke to me about their opposition to war and the growth of intolerance in the world. “I am definitely super against the war in general, it doesn’t really accomplish anything at all. I think there is a lot of intolerance going on and it is really frustrating,” said Lucas, a freshman psychology student. Freshmen, Katie and Rebecca came out and helped with the booth that had the index cards for peace essays so they could help Professor Soward, their English teacher. “We support what he’s doing and we’re able to show everyone what peace means, and it doesn’t matter what race or gender, we are all equal together and we’re going to stick together, and we got you,” said Rebecca. “I think it’s great because there’s so many different cultures and backgrounds here, and we’re all just getting to know each other and playing together,” added Katie. Despite speaking about the relative youth of their generation, Katie and Rebecca struck me as examples of the wisdom and maturity Professor Soward discussed with me. The “new generation’s ability to make a difference after witnessing things that [he] didn’t witness.”