Chicago witnessed a spectacle last week in their magnificent Auditorium Theater on East Congress Parkway – “The 2010 World Peace Gala.”
The Hon. Juan Méndez, first Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide to the Secretary General of the United Nations, was honored for his efforts to help create a world with less hatred.
The event – “Carnival, China Style” – featured over 70 magnificent performing artists from China, allowing Chicagoans the rare opportunity to witness the various beautiful ethnic cultural arts from Beijing.
The event featured marvelous artistic performances of the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe, sponsored by the All China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and the World Harmony Foundation.
The evening, a brilliant framework to this endeavor to achieve peace and understanding through culture, was also supported by the organization I founded a decade ago, Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW).
The successful evening was attended by the Consul General of China and other dignitaries, including officials from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Consulate-General in Chicago.
Rotary International, based in the Chicago area, was also well represented.
Paul Stevers, founder and president of CharityHelp International (CHI), accepted the World Peace Award from China Star Media Corporation, Orphans International Worldwide and the World Harmony Fund on behalf of Juan Méndez. Paul read remarks from Juan, highlighted here:
I am deeply moved by your decision to honor my efforts on behalf of human rights, peace and friendship among nations.
It has been a privilege for me to be able to serve former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as his, and I would have thought that such an appointment was reward enough – though it certainly brought with it a lot of hard work.
I never felt that the task was finally accomplished and I believe very strongly that we all must continue to devote efforts to peaceful resolution of disputes, early warning, and appropriate responses to crimes against humanity.
Justice for the victims of those crimes is the most effective way to prevent similar tragedies from occurring again.
That is why I feel honored to have been invited to this World Peace Gala in Chicago, which I have no doubt will contribute to those efforts in a significant way.
“This event was a wonderful and creative way to spread the hope of world peace. It brings people together – through these very impressive and diverse Chinese cultural performances for peace – to build intercultural understanding and goodwill” Paul Stevers told me.
As Founder of Orphans International Worldwide, I was invited to attend the event. Daway Zhou, Founder and Chair of the World Peace Gala presented a $10,000 donation for our orphaned children around the world. Another $15,000 was contributed to the World Harmony Fund.
For her leadership efforts for friendship and peace, Orphans International Worldwide and the World Harmony Fund presented Ms. Zhou with an award. OI Worldwide Officer John Lee also attended the event.
Orphans International Worldwide and the World Harmony Fund
presented Ms. Daway Zhou with an award for her efforts toward for friendship and peace. Photo courtesy of China Star Media.
At the VIP reception prior to the event, covered by local and international media, I presented Daway Zhou a certificate of appreciation.
Judy Gibson heads Rotary International’s Peace Centers Program, which I recently covered (here). “Together, we can make meaningful progress towards that all-important goal: world peace,” Judy told me.
“Through their excellent leadership and guidance this evening creates an opportunity for greater understanding to further develop friendship and peace between China and the world,” Judy said afterwards.
The dynamic evening ended with a sizzling finale in which the entire cast danced to “The Song Flying on Earth.”
This event was a wonderful opportunity to spread the hope of world peace, and bring leadership towards that end together to focus on how best to make meaningful progress towards that all-important goal.
I heartily congratulate the Chinese leadership that made this global peace initiative possible in the backyard of our president, Barack Obama. They have made an impressive gesture to support peace and build intercultural understanding.
Edited by Margaret J. O’Connor. Photos by John Lee unless otherwise noted.
Related stories by Jim Luce:
Rotary Addresses Root Causes of Conflict and War (Huffington Post)
Tibet: Polar Perspectives. Can Both Sides Be Heard? (Huffington Post)
Global China Connection: From Columbia to Stanford and McGill (Huffington Post)