This year marks the 50th anniversary of the hit song Peace Train by Cat Stevens – now known as Yusuf Islam. It was written about the longing for peace and a better world. In early 2020 the initiative Peace Train was established by the Yusuf Islam Foundation with a focus on feeding the hungry and spreading peace.
Given Coventry’s unique status as an International City of Peace and Reconciliation, Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) has been working with the Yusuf Islam Foundation to put together a series of activities as part of a project called Peace Train Sounding Louder, to explore what peace means in 2021.
The project aims to address the urgent and widespread issues of conflict and insecurity in many parts of the world.
I first encountered the song Peace Train many years ago as a 21-year-old. When I think about it I realise that this song and the meaning I drew from it has probably informed how I chose to live my life. The Peace Train Sounding Louder initiative creates a space where, like me, more people can be inspired by the song, crucially it will create spaces for serious, meaningful and artistic discussions about peace that are relevant to our everyday lives. – Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Assistant Professor CTPSR
In this first year, shaped by CTPSR and the Foundation’s shared vision to establish peace, the partnership will be running a series of creative and educational events.
They will work with schools in the UK and abroad to engage children in discussions and promote artistic expression around the topic of peace.
Applications are now open for a photography competition for young adults which aims to visually capture their understandings of everyday peace. Award-winning Coventry-born Reuters photographer Hannah McKay will be one of three judges, including Yusuf.
This celebration of peace will conclude with a virtual online summit on 26th June 2021 that will include masterclasses on peace studies, storytelling and poetry.
Register your interest for this event.
With 2021 being the 50th anniversary of Peace Train, we are looking forward to celebrating the anniversary through continuing the work of peace building with Coventry University.
Hasana Islam, CEO of the Yusuf Islam Foundation
Participants will also be signposted to external opportunities to continue their learning and activism, from simple actions like petition signing, to pursuing passions for peacebuilding, either on a voluntary basis or as a viable career choice.
The organisers of the project would like to invite people to submit their memories of the Peace Train song and what they believe it means in 2021: PeaceTrain@coventry.ac.uk.