Rosie Edge tells us what she learned while volunteering at the Talking Peace Festival.
After a few days in Old Street station, offering Talking Peace Festival postcards alongside the Metro man, I thought I had a pretty good idea of who would take one and who wouldn’t. But every single day, people surprised me. The type of person who would take the publicity, who would stop and ask ‘What’s this all about then?’, who would happily don a pair of clown specs and a pink feather boa to have their photo taken while making a peace sign … Well, there was no ‘type’. That’s what getting involved in Talking Peace has taught me.
I originally got involved through a friend at International Alert, who knew that I had a lot of free time at the right time, so I signed up for whatever was needed, which turned out to be taking photos of complete strangers in the Peace Booth, and of the artists who were working each day too. It was a real privilege to watch the canvases develop and then see some of the finished works on display in Conflict Kitchen London, a.k.a. Monikers on Hoxton Square. Giving out leaflets to complete strangers and talking to them about the festival gave me a better grasp of the variety of events on offer, and helping out at the Amahoro Generation exhibition on the South Bank gave me a better understanding of the work of Alert and the huge task that faces them.
But also talking to those complete strangers taught me the importance of communicating and creating that dialogue that Alert strives to promote globally. I realised that while I may live in a peaceful society, it doesn’t mean I should ignore the plight of those in less stable and less peaceful situations. All of us have something to contribute to peace, however small, and it doesn’t just lie with a certain ‘type’ of person. Just look at the Peace Booth photos – everyone was there, and I’m glad I was too.