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1,000 Cranes for Peace

By Sarah
On April 17, 2017

Mattea Powers with the completed cranes.

Origami paper cranes are taking flight all over campus, thanks to Mattea Powers. The first-year environmental science major started the project as part of her art and politics class. The goal of the project is to promote peace.

Over 20 student organizations and offices are helping to make the cranes. The completed cranes will hang during Earth Jam on April 29, in the trees on the Alumni Green.

The project is inspired by the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” which is based on a true story about a girl living in Hiroshima, Japan. In the story, Sadako develops leukemia caused by radiation from the atomic bomb.

Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish. Sadako folds cranes while she is in the hospital, hoping that her wish will come true: that she will get well. Sadako died in October of 1955, at the age of 12.

After her death, a monument was raised of Sadako holding a golden crane. The plaque below it reads "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world."

Powers said she was inspired by Sadako’s story. “She wanted peace in the world, and she was only 12,” said Powers.

In the modern world, peace is threatened by violence in the Middle East and around the world, displaced refugees, police brutality in the U.S. connected with race, and fear after the presidential election. Powers said she hopes her project will help to put more peace in the world than anger.

“There is room for us to accept everybody no matter their race, sexual and gender orientation, and religion, open our minds to new ideas, and give our time to issues we care about,” Powers said in an email.

What began as a small assignment grew into a campus-wide collabortion. Power’s art and politics class is a general education course taught by Michelle Fistek. The final assignment was to create a piece of art that reflects personal political views. In the past, people have created art based on animal testing, abortion and education.

Powers chose peace, because she said it is important to her. Powers said that many students do smaller projects for the assignment, such as a collage. She did not expect her project to become as big as it did.

Many students were enthusiastic about the project. Meganne Tuplin learned about the project through the Catholic Campus Ministry, and folded over 25 cranes. “It was very relaxing,” Tuplin said. “It was something I could do really easily.”

Tuplin then introduced the project to Poets and Writers, where the members wrote short poems inside of their cranes.

Organizations involved include Poets and Writers, PSU Democrats, SAVE All, Information Technology Services, the Registrar's Office and more.

“I came in here as a freshman knowing nobody, and now most of the staff and students know me because of this project,” said Powers.

Powers wanted to thank Kathy Tardif, Catholic campus minister, who introduced Powers to the book and helped her organize the project.

After the cranes hang during Earth Jam, Powers would like to move them to the diversity display case in front of the PSU bookstore.

Hopefully, seeing the colorful display of cranes will encourage the PSU community to promote peace on campus and in the world.

CLOCK PHOTO / JACK ROBERTS

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