What a CELEBRATION! During the week of February 4-9, 2014, the community of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, México held its 4th Annual Celebration of Peace. Each year since 2010, the community implements a peace education program for its students and for the community at large. Activities commence on September 21st, the United Nations International Day of Peace, and continue throughout the year. The Celebration is held during the dry season in February.
Last month, the community took time to CELEBRATE and thank all the many people and organizations that contribute to its educational and student development programs. This year’s Celebration of Peace was held in conjunction with the Zihuatanejo Sailfest, sponsored by the Por Los Niños Educational Charity that raises money for student scholarships and schools in the area.
With raffles, a Chili Cook-off, sailboat rides and a variety of fun activities, tourists and community members raised over $80,000 USD to benefit the children of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo! Sailing for education!
Peace Education Program: The History & Culture of Afro-Mexicans in Guerrero
This year, our peace education program is about the rich history and cultural diversity of our state. Many people do not know about the African influence in Mexico, especially in the Costa Chica Region of the State of Guerrero. For the past three (3) years, Zihuatanejo’s tourism university, Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero (UAGro), has collaborated with Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan to develop research about this indigenous cultural segment, along with the development of a traveling exhibition, photos and website, www.FreedomPathways.org. The exhibit is currently touring the State of Michigan, USA. The universities gave a joint educational conference to students about developing the cultural tourism segment. The educators also plan to develop professor and student interchange programs.
Club Rotario (Rotary) of Zihuatanejo, a new sponsor of the community’s peace program, held a luncheon at the beautiful Catalina Beach Resort on La Ropa Beach where the the university professors made a presentation to international tourists and community members. The event included an art exhibition, a photo exhibition and a fashion show of traditional dress from the area. Food, music, dancing, peace hugs and more! What a party!
The Celebration of Peace and Re-Certification Ceremony
We ended the week of activities with our 4th Annual Celebration of Peace and Re-Certification Ceremony. Each year, with the help of the DRD Peace Center in Southfield, Michigan, the community of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo must implement a peace education program to qualify for certification as a “Culture of Peace” community. (See: DETROIT PEACE CENTER – IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO PEACE PROGRAM – History and Requirements.)
The Celebration began at our Peace Pole Monument in Zihuatanejo, where Zihuatanejo Mayor Eric Fernández Ballestros dedicated a new Donor and Sponsors Plaque and students gave the universal plea for peace, “May Peace Prevail on Earth!”
Culture of Peace Program Donors and Sponsors: Detroit Renaissance District Peace Center in Southfield, Michigan; Club SKAL Ixtapa 646; Teresa Rodríguez Laurel; Ciudades Hermanas de Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (Sister Cities); Club Rotario (Rotary) de Zihuatanejo; Glaser Family Charity in Dallas, Texas; IZ Properties, Ixtapa; Dorado Pacifico Resort, Ixtapa; Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, Unidad Académica Turismo Zihuatanejo.
The event continued with a Peace Walk along the beachfront to our town square for the certification ceremony. This year, our special guest of honor was Liberato Bautista, Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs, General Board of Church and Society in New York City. Over 1,000 people attended the Celebration, including representatives from the DRD Peace Center and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield, Michigan, and our Sister City of Bensenville, Illinois.
This year, our special guest of honor was Liberato Bautista, Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs, General Board of Church and Society in New York City.
Mr. Bautista delivered an inspiring message to the crowd, in Spanish, with English translations for the international audience. “Thank you for inviting and welcoming me to your beautiful and tranquil city. I have only been here for three days, but I have already experienced your infectious friendship. I have already benefited from your gracious hospitality. I have already witnessed your contagious hope for peace,” he said.
“By being here, I have been infused with energy just looking at your smiles and joining you in laughter. After all, how else might we exhibit peace except by making them visible in our lives and in our relationships? How else might we celebrate peace except by making them real in our families, homes, streets, workplaces, and in the halls of governments?
As we gather to celebrate peace, I hope we engage ourselves in a deeper understanding of what peace truly is about and what it requires of us who desire it. Indeed, to those who desire peace are responsibilities to keep it, to make it, and to build it. Peace must be beyond desiring. In the end, it is about making sure we live peace. A culture of peace, according to the United Nations that declared it, is ‘a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behavior and ways of life.’ ”
What a CELEBRATION OF PEACE! We invite you to join us next year during the first week of February 2015.
For more information about the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area, see: