Blog: Peace Poles at Salisbury University

By Dr. Patricia Dean

Devastated by the destruction from WWII, Masahisa Goi dedicated his life to uniting people across the world and spreading hope for world peace. In 1955, Goi started the International Peace Pole Project in Japan, and today there are Peace Poles, hand-crafted monuments to peace, in 180 countries worldwide.

On November 14, 2012, two 6 feet tall Peace Poles were added to the courtyard of the Teacher Education building at Salisbury University on the eastern shore of Maryland. This is the result of a project initiated by Dr. Patricia Dean’s students in her Social Studies class at SU. Each semester the students in the class read the book Black Ants and Buddhists by Mary Cowhey, a primary teacher from Massachusetts. Cowhey chronicles her life as a teacher of her “Peace Class” as she calls her group of students.

This gave Dr. Dean the idea to watch for signs of peace in her travels and share them with her students. During the 2012 spring semester, when Dr. Dean shared her photos of peace symbols found around the world, the Peace Poles were particularly interesting to this group of students. When they learned about the significance of the Peace Poles, the students decided it would be a wonderful legacy to leave to the SU campus.

The Peace Study Center matched the funds for the Peace Poles and at their dedication, PSC President Hannah Pickworth stated, “No matter how great we become as math or English teachers, if we aren’t teachers of peace, what’s the point? Thank you for being a teacher of peace in addition to your discipline.”

Several students shared their thoughts about leaving this legacy to SU. Lindsay Manuel spoke first, “As future teachers, the concept of peace is something we want to instill in our students…people will know they are not just welcome here, they are accepted here.”  Erin O’Shea agreed, saying, “I hope that students for years to come will wonder what these beautiful poles are and look them up and discover the story behind them, just as we did.”

Other students talked about how the Peace Poles represent unity within the campus community. The poles also send a message of peace to visitors, a message that the students want to carry throughout their lives.  Kelly Darcey said, “I think the Peace Poles are a great addition to our campus because they will be an everyday reminder to stop thinking about ourselves so much and remember to think of others. We can spread peace simply by just being kind to others.”

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