Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
…and we are more alike than we are different.
Wherever you travel in the world, eventually, you will find yourself walking on a field or next to a monument that once was, or still is, used to preserve the memories of our ancestors. Since the dawn of time, humankind raises magnificent structures to celebrate the greatness of the people who made a difference in the world. Tombs and memorials surround us no matter what country we travel to.
The idea struck me when my Class #27 was visiting Wat Pho (also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), in Bangkok. The giant and colorful pagodas stand out among 90 smaller ones, and each one is different.
The basic needs are the same, which include glorifying the ancestors. The expression of such a need results in multi-shape products. From Bangkok to Giza, from Rome to Itza, across centuries, each resembling expression of same feelings.
Then come the differences. Each expression (i.e. each tomb) embodies the specific characteristics and features of the culture that produces it. There we have the manifestation of diversity and beauty and richness in a common symbol.
In particular, our Class #27, and I bet to say all of the former classes of this challenging and enriching peace program, have made up a colorful, mesmerizing, and knowledgeable union of fine human species.
We applied to this program because we are driven by the same need: make a difference in the world we live in. How we do it and what we will create when we go back to our respective lives will be influenced/determined by the cultural environment and the specific situation each of us will encounter.
Tombs and people. One essential difference: people pick up from each other. We Fellows shares knowledge, experiences, fears, challenges and dreams. Together we learn about ourselves and our own cultures (Italian, Finnish, Danish, Kenyan, Nigerian, Zimbabwean, Pakistani, Indian, Burmese, Thai, Australian, Canadian, American, Mexican, Colombian, and Brazilian) understand our strengths and acknowledge and work on our weaknesses. We communicate to become stronger as an individual and as a group.
We become our own superb monument. Each of us will shine according to color of her/his background, culture, tradition, language, and we will reflect the same values and principles. We may not be remembered as pharaohs, kings or rulers, but we will contribute “to make the world a better place”.
Claudia Caluori – Italy
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27