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SEALs and Shanti: A Message of Peace to Better the Community

SEALs+pictured+together+rehearsing+for+the+SHANTI+Fund+presentation.
SEALs pictured together rehearsing for the SHANTI Fund presentation.

SEALs pictured together rehearsing for the SHANTI Fund presentation.

Photo by SEALs

Photo by SEALs

SEALs pictured together rehearsing for the SHANTI Fund presentation.

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This past Saturday, the Patchogue-Medford SEALs won a youth presentation competition run by the Shanti Fund at their event geared toward promoting the culture of peace and nonviolence. This program, entitled “Enlightenment and Peace Thru Education” has been taking place annually for the last several years in accordance with the United Nations’ declaration “to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence among children” and as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. For this event, the Shanti Fund has been inviting groups from Long Island schools who promote peace and nonviolence to participate in a presentation competition held the Saturday before Ghandhi’s birthday (October second; the UN International Day of Nonviolence), of which the SEALs are included.

The volunteers of the Shanti Fund bring together community members in the name of peace in order to share an international message of nonviolence and promote the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. (In Hindi, the word “shanti” means peace, the motive behind the organization.) Every year, the organization comes together to celebrate Gandhi’s birthday, which has become the UN International Day of Nonviolence, and honor those who continue to promote the Gandhian principles of peace and nonviolence. On the Saturday before October second, the fund organizes a youth presentation competition to promote the education of Gandhian principles. On the actual UN International Day of Nonviolence, the celebration is geared more towards adult members of the community who promote Gandhian principles through action. This year, such presenters included Soh Young Lee-Segredo, who is a community activist and humanitarian who inspires international unity and acceptance through the arts and education; and Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India in New York, who works as a diplomat to promote an international culture of peace. These are members of the international community who work in partnership with the Shanti Fund.

The SEALs serve as our community’s advocates of peace. The SEALs consists of a group of students in Patchogue-Medford High School who are trained to prevent and handle aggression through peer-to-peer education and the use of improvisational games. In an attempt to spread their message of nonviolence, the SEALs (which is an acronym standing for social and emotional aspects of learning) travel throughout the school district, leading lessons which teach students of the community what to do when witnessing aggression. These lessons are based upon participation and open discussion, including analogical games and meaningful videos that mimic social situations common to everyday life at school.

At the Shanti Fund, the SEALs demonstrated one of these games, called Animal Farm. In this game, each player is assigned an animal which they have to make the sound of in order to find other players with the same animal and link arms with them without looking. This game is meant to demonstrate cliques and friendship groups students encounter in the hallways on a day-to-day basis. It is meant to make people realize that others can be made to feel left out if they do not belong to a certain group and that it is important to be inclusive rather than exclusive as we are all trying to find where we belong in school and in life in general. Unification and nonviolence are the foundations of the SEALs, a message that has been recognized by the Shanti Fund since the group began attending last year and won the last two competitions. This year, the SEALs look forward to spreading their message even further by bringing their presentation to the elementary schools of Patchogue-Medford and perhaps even other school districts on Long Island.

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SEALs and Shanti: A Message of Peace to Better the Community