Newport eighth grader defines ‘real peace’ at URI’s 7th Annual Gandhi Essay Award Ceremony

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Michael Garman is presented his first-place certificate by Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies Director and Professor Paul Bueno de Mesquita, left, and URI Professor of Marketing Ruby Dholakia in the College of Business Administration for his winning essay. URI photo by Michael Salerno Photography.

KINGSTON, R.I. — June 20, 2017 — Michael Garman, an eighth grader at Cluny School in Newport, won first place in the 7th annual Rhode Island Gandhi Essay Contest sponsored by the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island.

Garman’s essay reads in part,  “To me, ‘real peace’ is more than merely the end of war. It includes the end of prejudice and discrimination, and is the state of worldwide harmony. A world in which there is real peace is one of unity, where all people stand together, regardless of age, gender identity, race, religion, or socioeconomic background.”

The Newport resident was one of 21 eighth graders from 13 schools to celebrate their accomplishments recently with their families and the URI community and to honor the peace and nonviolence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.

Twenty-two public and private schools held classroom and school level contests resulting in 67 of the best entries from the eighth graders. During the last seven years, more than 1,000 eighth graders have participated in the essay contest. This year, the young essayists expounded on this Gandhi quote: “If we are to teach real peace, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

In their essays, the students explained what is meant by Gandhi’s statement and how they serve others in their communities.

Awards were presented by contest founders URI Professor of Marketing Ruby Dholakia in the College of Business Administration and Psychology Professor Paul Bueno de Mesquita, director of URI’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies.

Second-place awards were presented to North Kingstown resident Christopher LoPresti and Newport resident Darcy Weber, both students St. Michael’s Country Day School, Newport.

Third Place awards went to East Greenwich’s Jordan Kalinsky from Archie R. Cole Middle School, North Providence’s Samantha Williams from Dr. Edward A. Ricci Middle School, and Narragansett’s Lily Kutcher from Rocky Hill School.

Along with essay awards, distinguished Professor Emeritus Ghasi Ram Verna, humanitarian and a champion of women’s education in his native India, celebrated the virtue of selflessness by presenting five students with the Gandhi Compassion and Selfless Service award. The students are: Sean Jacob Alcordo, from Sacred Heart School in East Providence, Michael Garman, from Cluny School in Newport, Christopher LoPresti from St. Michael’s Country Day School, in Newport, Nicholas Petrillo, from Nicholas A. Ferri Middle School in Johnston and Kasey Regan, Cluny School, Newport

The award ceremony concluded with students, parents, and teachers singing the national anthem of peace, “This Little Light of Mine” led by Bueno de Mesquita.

URI’s Nonviolence and Peace Studies subscribes to the values of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by advocating the teaching and practice of nonviolence so that future generations will learn the skills needed to solve conflicts peacefully and create a world without war and free from violence.

Josh Reyes, an intern with URI Marketing and Communications and a sophomore public relations major, wrote this release.