Chalk the Walk
by Helen Susan Edelman
A Public Expression of Peace
Twenty-two students in Empire State College’s International Programs collaborated with faculty, staff and tourists to draw images of peace with chalk in front of the Archaeological Museum in Paphos, Cyprus.
The “Chalk the Walk” event was part of the Lebanon Residency Program. Many of the students were participating in a graffiti art course taught by Mary Ann Borden, from the Latham location, where they had learned how artists use graffiti in order to express images of peace. The Empire State College students had the opportunity to share their views on peace with a Cypriot educator, as well as students from other countries, the local and extended community and tourists from all over Europe.
At the event, many students drew slogans and phrases that expressed their personal perception of peace. Charbel Ghanime, 21, a student in the graffiti course, had drawn the words “Where is the love?” in the shape of a bomb. “Bombs seem to be the solution for many countries who want peace,” said Ghanime. “I ask, ‘Where is the love?’, because if you really wanted peace for others, you would not bomb them or kill them."
Collaboration Through Peace
The residency, which was themed “Collaboration Through Peace,” was organized by Karolyn Andrews, director of the Lebanon Residency Program, and attended by faculty coming from the U.S., including Sheila Aird, Kathy Turrant, Richard Savior and Jeannine Mercer.
In another residency event, ESC students and their international counterparts reflected on how to respond to differences in their society in a peaceful manner.
While those not studying art initially had been hesitant to draw among the art students, they slowly sat down along the pavement together, their inhibitions dissolving.
"Before the event, the students were reluctant to participate, and they weren’t alone,” said Andrews. “Some of the tourists who stopped to watch were shy about chalking as well, but it took just a bit of encouragement to get them all going. As everyone moved outside of their comfort zone, and began chalking the walk for peace, they talked with one another, learned about one another and, in the end, found it easier than they expected to connect with one another.”
Approximately 45 bystanders from countries including China, Ukraine, Palestine, Spain, the United Kingdom and Cyprus joined in. Eventually, over a period of several hours in the hot afternoon sun, a collage of images emerged on the pavement.
“There were people from many nations drawing with us, including Palestine and Ukraine, and each had his or her own notion of what peace was,” said Ghanime. “Peace is a point of view and I think that is what the 'Chalk the Walk' was about. Together, all of these different viewpoints emerged. Only through differences can world peace come about.”
The "Chalk the Walk" event was hosted by Theodosis Georgoudis, from the Division of Cultural Services at the Paphos Municipality in Cyprus.
A synchronous link through the Internet was made available thanks to the efforts of Director of Media Production and Resources John Hughes, so that students not able to be there in person still could attend all activities held in Paphos via the Internet.
Photography by John Hughes ’81