by Jana Mackin
Despite a recent no-show by a goodwill VIP, some local young Peace Makers transformed a diplomatic disappointment into a “Merhaba” celebration of peace and cultural diversity for the bus-load of People to People International representatives. The representatives had accompanied the organization’s president, Mary Jean Eisenhower, who canceled at the last minute to catch a flight. With the same positive mental attitude that has made a fledgling group of young people into a visionary force of movers and shakers thumbing their noses at apathy, the PTPI Peace Makers–Mohammedia hosted a midday get-together for global diversity and world peace at the AmericanLanguageCenter without the organization’s president.
“Welcome,” said Sara Marsli, 20, Peace Makers president, addressing a standing-room-only crowd of American delegates about the chapter’s mission, plans and achievements. Marsli was visibly disappointed by Eisenhower’s absence. “One hand cannot clap,” she said, “but with all hands united, we can touch people and make a better future.”
On Oct. 14, the Peace Makers had planned a welcome reception, speech and lunch for Eisenhower and her entourage of nearly 45 American delegates to the ALC as part of a 10-day goodwill tour honoring the various Moroccan chapters for their grass-roots work and achievements. The granddaughter of PTPI founder President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eisenhower visited the Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, and Tangier chapters to honor their efforts. Despite Eisenhower’s no-show at Mohammedia, other PTPI officials and representatives attended the midday reception, talk and lunch, learning about the Peace Maker’s commitment to realizing Eisenhower’s mission of “peace through understanding.” Eisenhower last visited Morocco in 1993. This would have been her first ALC visit.
“I’m not Mary Eisenhower,” said Troy Nash, PTPI’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, accepting the chapter’s gift on her behalf. “We thank you for your efforts,” Nash said. “We are eternally grateful for all you have done, and are doing, and will do for promoting Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vision.”
Two days earlier, Eisenhower spoke at the PTPI headquarters dinner party in the Le Meridien Royal Mansour Hotel Casablanca, discussing the chapter’s education and humanitarian initiatives. She presented the Peace Makers with a crystal PTPI globe as a reward for their social work, community service and promoting the PTPI mission. On September 11, 1956, President Eisenhower founded the organization to enhance and promote international understanding and friendship. He stated, "I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals."
At present this nonprofit organization promoting global peace has a presence in 135 countries with a membership of more than 80,000 families and individuals, ranging from elementary children to senior citizens. Several programs are offered for adults and young people, including Global Youth Forum, Young Generation, Student Ambassador Program, and Peace Camp, Various classroom projects include Global Youth Murals, Recognize Earth Day, and Poems for Peace in Our World, .
Zouhair El Aouni, a Peace Makers advisor and cofounder, said “The globe is crystal. You can see other chapters (in it), you can see PTPI friends.” “It is very transparent. You can see what’s inside. It’s crystal clear.”
From the modest beginnings when three best friends, El Aouni, Yasmine El Hasnaoui, and Youness Tihm, shared a dream of community improvement, the chapter has realized a clarity of vision, resulting in tangible community contributions. Chartered in 2008, Peace Makers has presently 20 active members, ranging in ages from 17 to 29 and from a variety of backgrounds. The members are dedicated to promoting humanitarian, societal, and educational collaboration among different local groups as well as global community. Education for disadvantaged children has been a priority, together with international exchange activities and projects, hands-on work and services, and raising awareness on global issues and tutoring.
Citing a proverb, El Aouni said: “Weak souls have only wishes. Great souls have determination and will aim to do something for their country.”
Among the many projects that have been accomplished, are in progress or are planned are tutoring elementary classes in French, Math and English; Earth Day projects and celebration; promoting global awareness; participating in educational guidance of young people; creating libraries in rural areas; international days youth education; and promoting the values of peace, justice, tolerance, transparency and leadership. Next summer, the chapter plans to host an international peace and cultural diversity conference with young leaders, professors, journalists and other non-governmental officials.
On the forefront of student activism and community change, Peace Makers is realizing Eisenhower’s half-century-old dream of global peace and understanding through relevant global and community efforts. This chapter gives a 21st century face to an ages old humanitarian need as well as dispelling the stereotype that Generation Twitter is only concerned about “me.”
“I’m alive. I have feet and hands. I have eyes,” said Asmaa Rouwane, 20, Peace Makers vice president. “Why don’t I do something for somebody else?”