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Virtual May 4 peace event set

Staff report

WARREN — On the heels of a year plagued by a global pandemic, a combative presidential election, rising violence in the form of mass shootings, and an increased awareness of social inequities and injustice, Kent State Trumbull senior English student Valerie Dalrymple decided to do something positive.

In January she began planning “It Starts with You: Promoting Peace and Civil Discourse in Our Lives.”

The free and virtual event will be 2 to 5 pm. Tuesday. Dalrymple chose May 4 because of its historical context for Kent State University.

“In politics, social media, and even our personal lives, people are working to hurt others through humiliation, ostracization, threats, and even physical violence,” Dalrymple said. “May 4 represents a horrible day in our school and national history, but it also reflects a day where we can do something about the hatred and help shift the conversation from one of destruction to one of mutual respect, mutual compassion, and mutual understanding.”

To pull the event together, Dalrymple enlisted the advice and help of Trumbull faculty members Carol Robinson and Ana Wetzl, as well as interim Dean Daniel Palmer.

“Valerie came to me in January, wanting to create an event that promotes peace,” Robinson said. “We involved Dr. Wetzl and Dr. Palmer in discussions of various ideas. We were all eager to help pull this together, I think, because there seems to be a need for equipping people with tools for spreading kindness and hope against cruelty and oppression.”

The event will take place in two parts. First is “Hearing the Voice of the Other: Finding a Small Patch of Common Ground to Listen and Talk to Each Other,” in which a panel will discuss using rhetoric and / or other forms of communication in response to antagonistic and other hateful rhetoric, to deescalate hateful situations and to peacefully promote constructive discourse. The audience will have a chance to ask questions at the conclusion.

Palmer will moderate the panel, which consists of the following professionals:

N.J. Akbar, Associate Vice President, Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Kent State University

Molly Merryman, Director, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Kent State University

Peter Byrne, Associate Professor, English, Kent State University at Trumbull

Lauren Lemley, Instructor, American Sign Language, Kent State at University Trumbull

Next, David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, will moderate and present “Poems of Peace and Conflict Transformation: An Interactive Presentation.”

Five poets will be featured, with their poems of peace, and then participate in a brief panel discussion about poetry and conflict transformation. This part of the event will conclude with Hassler discussing the Global Peace Poem Project, during which time participants can read out loud entries for this project.

“I believe that we can come together with open minds and open hearts to have intellectual, constructive discourse, and learn to cherish each other and our various views instead of hating,” Dalrymple said.

The event is free and open to all. For more information or to register, visit www.kent.edu/trumbull/event/it-starts-you-promoting-peace-civil-discourse-our-lives.

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