SGI-USA Youth Hold Culture Festival at Columbine High School, Colorado
On March 21, 2010, more than 1,000 SGI-USA members and guests gathered at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, for a culture festival titled "1 World: The Power of Youth."
SGI-USA youth from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming converged at the school for an event featuring a variety of dances, a rock band and a spoken word performance. At the same time, SGI-USA members from Littleton and the surrounding area donated books to the Columbine High School library, including works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Walt Whitman. The school's World Languages Department Head Catherine Barrera accepted the books for the staff and students.
In April 1999, 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School were gunned down by two schoolmates, who then turned their weapons on themselves. In response to this tragic act of violence, SGI-USA youth created the Victory Over Violence initiative, which aims to inspire young people to identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their daily lives.
In the decade since, more than a million have signed the VOV pledge, which calls for each individual to value their own lives, respect all life, actively pursue dialogue and inspire hope in others. A corresponding exhibition has toured schools and communities throughout the world.
At the festival, SGI-USA Youth Leader Nathan Gauer said that many American youth today lead isolated lives and also stated his belief that they are cut off from the source of their true self. SGI-USA's Rock the Era, he said, is a youth movement that responds to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's call to youth to reveal their own greatness and that one person can make a profound difference. "Rock the Era is a time when countless youth are standing up in the reality of American society, united with their mentor, to transform the land in which we live," Mr. Gauer said.
SGI-USA Women's Leader Linda Johnson, also attending the event, explained that the focus of SGI-USA's Rock the Era youth culture festivals in July is to teach youth how to tap their own unique potential through their Buddhist practice. She said that each person has in limitless supply everything he or she will ever need to win in life.
[Adapted from an article in the April 9, 2010, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Averill Sehler]