Nursing Student Rallies SJSU to Erect Peace Pole

Photo: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Photo: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Inspired by her belief in world peace, a nursing student rallied the SJSU community to install and unveil its very own Peace Pole.

Navpreet Kaur, ’17 Nursing, delivered the keynote address at the unveiling of SJSU’s newest monument Oct. 12.

A crowd of students, faculty and staff gathered along a busy walkway between Tower Hall and a grove of trees and roses near Clark Hall to hear from her.

“I believe we do have the potential to reach peace. It’s just a very difficult process,” she said.

One message, 12 languages

The Peace Pole is much smaller than SJSU’s Smith/Carlos sculpture and the Cesar E. Chavez monument, but it packs a punch.

“May Peace Prevail on Earth” is inscribed on the pole in the 12 languages most common in Santa Clara County.

Kaur was inspired to pursue the project after taking a semester off from San Jose State, and enrolling in classes at San Jose City College.

She knew nothing about Peace Poles when she stumbled upon one there. The inscription, in so many languages, intrigued her.

So she did what everyone does nowadays to record the moment: She took a photo of the pole, Instagrammed it, and then Googled it.

An international movement

Photo By Leo Reynolds

Peacemarker by Leo Reynolds / Three photos, combined.

She learned that the Peace Pole movement was born in post World War II Japan. Today, there are more than 200,000 poles worldwide.

“I remember just feeling an instant connection, and I thought I wanted to see this on my home campus,” Kaur said.

Back at SJSU, Kaur spent a day contacting everyone she could, from the president on down, until she got a reply.

The response came from Aditya Mairal, ’17 Mechanical Engineering. At the time, he was the Associated Students director of intercultural affairs.

“I gave her that push and told her that ‘yes, you can do this,’” Mairal said to Spartan Daily.

Kaur took that to heart, and her dream came true, with a good dose of mentoring from The Valley Foundation School of Nursing Director Katherine Abriam-Yago.

A faculty mentor

“She was just a constant support system,” Kaur said. “She would tell me, ‘This is your idea and if you’re envisioning it in a certain way, then you need to fight for that vision.’”

Raised in East San Jose’s cultural melting pot, Kaur was particularly concerned about the languages.

“My number one goal was to make sure there was no bias with the language selection,” she said, so she turned to U.S. Census data to keep the peace.

Interestingly, one reason she is drawn to nursing is, in her eyes, it’s also all about mediation.

“A lot of the time, patients don’t express what their true concerns are in fear of being judged by their healthcare professionals,” she said. “As a nurse, I am an advocate for my patient. I’m an advocate for their concerns. Standing up for those who are afraid to raise their voice is a beautiful thing.”