To carry forth the Olympic Spirit - Olympic truce promotes peace to all nations
In ancient Greece all the city states would maintain a truce
for the period of the Olympic Games, and this was a sacred principle for them.
Many hundreds of years later, in our world today, the International Olympic
Committee has declared that one of the essential principles of the Olympic spirit
is ‘to revive the ancient idea of the Olympic Truce, with the goal of
promoting a more peaceful global society, with concern for the preservation
of human dignity’.
In 2004 the Olympic Games will be taking place in Greece, the land where they
originated. Theodora Papanastassatou has recognised this event as an opportunity
to promote this principle of truce and peace and encourage a greater dialogue
and friendship between nations and civilisations. Theodora teaches literature
at the Perachora-Louthraki High School and has begun a project for schoolchildren,
based on the colours of the Olympic Rings. Topaz interviewed Theodora to learn
more about this project.
How did this project begin?
Theodora: Sometimes, by keeping it simple, a great many things
can happen. I try to be a teacher who provides an opportunity for the next generation
to reach above the ordinary, to find the real values of human life, and I believe
that these young people need to be presented with a few simple, true codings,
which they can then take and use their natural abilities to produce wonderful
In this project we have combined the colour codings with values that are core
to human life. Colour is everywhere in nature, it is attractive to people and
it is unifiying, A Greek person will see the same colour blue as a Chinese,
while core values maintain the connective tissue of the human race throughout
the ages. These colour codings and values come together in the 5 rings of the
When I presented this idea to my fellow teachers and students here, they loved
it, and we formed up a proposal to do with Olympic Education, which was presented
to the Ministry of Education and approved in December last year.
The value connected with each colour was the principle of TRUCE with the blue
ring, with the black ring the state of global PEACE (white in this project),
with the red ring the quality of FAIR PLAY, with the yellow ring the value of
FRIENDSHIP between people of different origins, and the green ring the proposition
Topaz: Why is the project supported by the Ministry of Education?
Theodora: The Ministry offered to sponsor projects around Olympic
ideals, and invited schools to participate. We chose the area of Truce and Peace
as we see that this is something that our world needs more and more. Our young
people have a great deal to say about this, the world of tomorrow will belong
to them, and they deserve the best chance. Two junior schools and two high schools
in our area are participating in the project, involving 600 children, with 200
students working weekly on the project. They have surprised us with the quality
of the notions, poems, paintings, drawings and essays they have produced and
their deep feelings about these issues. For example Joanna, age 14, wrote, ‘Peace
is a flame burning inside each human and we need to stand for it to keep it
Topaz: What activities do you do as part of the project?
Theodora: A whole multitude of things. We study other civilisations and, for
example, one class is painting the flags of other nations. Another class is
researching the art events of the modern Olympics, while another spends time
investigating ancient artefacts that show athletic activities. We have organised
in March a running event for all the young people in the area in the spirit
of fair play, more than 200 came to run and 100 to watch. At the end three
girls from the High School held hands as they decided to finish together and
demonstrate a love of participation above a desire to be first or second. We
have made T-shirts showing the five colours and the associated values. With
400 children we visited the local site of Heraio, a temple that dates back
to the 8th century BC, and we have also visited the ancient site of Olympia,
exploring, photographing and discovering.
At the end of May we will be holding a live exhibition to present the results
of the activities. A display of the five colours will be presented on stage
with PEACE as its central theme emanating from a white cone in the centre with
the other 4 colours supporting it. On the same day we will show on screen the
various activities of the four schools during the year, from a CD-Rom. The exhibition
will stay open for other schools and the public to attend.
Topaz: Can schools abroad join this project or get in touch
with you about this?
Theodora: We welcome exchanges with other schools and organisations.
We are already in contact with some schools as we would like to form a network
of young people who can communicate with each other about these values; by making
a friend in Germany or in Australia and finding out about the traditions and
ways in these countries, our young can experience the value of understanding
another for real, they can experience the value of dialogue and the message
about truce and peace can transfer between the young and into the local societies
in which they live. We intend to send to schools abroad material about the Olympic
ideals, posters and photos from our current activities, and they can send photos
of their activities to us.
Our internet site is gym-perach.kor.sch.gr.