Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I would like to start my remarks by sharing with you, a story I read sometime ago, entitled “The Colour of Friendship”.
Once upon a time the colours of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, the favourite.
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."
"You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life, drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."
Orange started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."
Red could stand it no longer he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the colour of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."
Purple rose up to his full height:
He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."
Indigo spoke, more quietly than others, but with determination:
"Think of me. I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."
And so the colours went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening, thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamour, God began to speak:
"You foolish colours, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colours united and joined hands.
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of colour as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow." And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.
This story sums up for me what my experience has been in UPEACE; what I believe has been the experience of most of the Class of 2005 and what I hope we will take with us as we go into the world as agents for peace. We are such a diverse group but together we form a hope for peace. My message to the community today is that there is strength in diversity.
And so on behalf of the Gender and Peace Building Class of 2005, I would like to say thank you to Dina Rodriguez, faculty and staff of the Gender and Peace Building Programme, faculty and staff of the rest of the school, the administration of UPEACE and to our families and friends. To our Costa Rican host community, I say: muchisimas gracias a la communidad Costaricense por su hospitalidad.
A special thank you to the kids of the Class of 2005. To those of you who left your friends and safe havens to move to Costa Rica with your parents, I say thanks for your support. To those who stayed back in your various homes with a mum or dad gone for one year, I say thanks for your sacrifice.