Penn State York students hold Vigil for Peace

November 24, 2015

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

-- Mahatma Gandhi

This quote from Gandhi is how Alyssa Zelwalk, Penn State York student and vice president of the Student Government Association at the campus, chose to open the campus’ Vigil for Peace on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Nittany Lion shrine. Zelwalk and about 25 members of the campus community gathered for the vigil, a candle lighting, and a moment of silence.

While the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 were the catalyst for holding a vigil before the Thanksgiving break, the group also wanted to draw attention to other global events, man-made and natural, that have occurred throughout the year and offer hope. Posters to advertise the event mentioned world events from the ISIS suicide bombings in Beirut and the earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, to the deadly dam burst in Brazil and the recent terrorist bombings in Paris.

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“I chose this quote by Mahatma Gandhi to remind all of us that it is important to not lose hope in the humanity of this world. I’m sure that much of our spirits and will power have been shaken up due to the recent events that have occurred globally, but especially those that happened almost a week ago in France on Friday, Nov. 13,” said Zelwalk.

She continued, “It is important now more than ever that we join together, as compassionate human beings, rather than let these events tear us apart and define who we are and how society will treat each other moving forward,” she said. “It is also vitally important that we do not live our lives in fear, because when we live in fear, we’re not really living. Recent events have reminded us that it’s important to love, to live, to be compassionate, and to hug the ones we love just a little bit harder every day.”

In addition to the vigil, Penn State York students, faculty and staff wrote messages of support for the victims of the terrorist attacks, which were then placed on a display board: “May you find peace,” “(Heart) is the answer,” “None of them will be forgotten if they are carried in our hearts,” “Peace comes after disaster,” and “Nakupenda,” which means "I love you" in Swahili, were just a few of the messages left at the site.

  • York Vigil for Peace1 2015

    Alyssa Zelwalk, a sophomore at Penn State York and vice president of the Student Government Association, led the Vigil for Peace on campus. The vigil was not only to remember those lost in the terrorist attacks in Paris, but to also remember all the events throughout the year that have impacted the world.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
  • York Vigil for Peace2 2015

    Francyou Desse, a sophomore at Penn State York, writes a message of hope on a Post-it note to be placed on the display board in remembrance of those lost in the Paris terrorist attacks as a part of the Vigil for Peace at the campus.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
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Last Updated November 30, 2015