On 17 October 2017, MGCI’s Social Justice and Equity Committee (SJEC) held a Spoken Word Café in commemoration of the International Day of Peace, which was on 21 September. Approximately forty students gathered in the library during lunch to listen to and reflect on various pieces presented by their peers.

The event had been promoted by SJEC on social media and morning announcements, as well as through the use of posters and a large, colourful banner hung in the galleria, created by the committee. Promises of refreshments and house colour points were also used to promote the event. Students were invited to create and come perform works that showcased how peace affects their lives. A donation of fifty cents was required for entry to the event, and the total proceeds of almost thirty dollars went to MGCI’s Save the Rohingya campaign.

Students in the audience listen to the pieces presented. Photo: Matthew Tse

The event ran from 12:15 pm to the end of lunch and was hosted by Sylvia Chong and Raluca Gondor, two members of SJEC. The works that were presented encompassed a variety of topics related to peace, such as world peace, unity, acceptance of diversity, and inner peace. The presenters and their respective pieces are listed as follows: Ayman Kazi,“The World We Live In”; Noor Ul Ain,“We Sit and Watch”; Kayne Alleyne Adams,“On Display” and “Frozen”; Jacqueline Huo, “Peace”; Rahma Khedr, presenting a poem written by student Batoul Abdo; and Zainab and Rahima,“Refugees”.

When asked about the inspiration behind his pieces, Kayne said, “My two pieces were inspired by small details in my life, like empty picture frames at home and cold winter days. I connected these little things to something internal and meaningful to me to create my poems.”

The pieces were met with enthusiastic applause and reflective discussion. Many audience members expressed their enjoyment of hearing about the different experiences and viewpoints relating to the theme of peace from each of the presenters. “It was very brave of them to come out and share their voices in front of so many people,” said Menatalla Khedr, a student that attended the event.

A student presents his poem as audience members look on. Photo: Matthew Tse

Rahma Khedr, SAC’s Social Justice Convenor, considered the event a success, and was very pleased with the turnout. “I think this event really helped the performers come out of their comfort zone,” she said. “They performed their amazing pieces and meaningful words in front of so many people that were strangers to them. It was very powerful.”

Last year, SJEC also organized a spoken word café for Remembrance Day, which was successful in raising awareness about themes of sacrifice and strength. This year, the committee plans to hold more spoken word cafés with different themes throughout the year.