Messenger of Peace: Akshara Sree Challa

September 19, 2013

  • I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.  ~  Sadako Sasaki

What had your attention at the tender age of sixteen? I was preoccupied with being attractive and I wanted to be madly in love, like most 16 year old girls. Yes, I was engaged academically, and participated in after school sports, but if you were to ask me what my heart’s desire was, world peace would not have been on my list.

What a rare gift and privilege it was to be contacted by Albany High School student, Akshara Sree Challa, in April of this year.  Assertive and vibrant, Akshara expressed interest in supporting my One Thousand Paper Cranes for Peace initiative for International Day of Peace, September 21.

Inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki of Japan, the vision of one thousand origami paper cranes for peace aligned with sixteen year old Akshara’s own vision of symbolic expression.

With energy and determination Akshara spent her summer vacation folding cranes, and on August 1, presented me with 1,013 paper cranes. Having folded paper cranes myself, I know that it takes almost five minutes to fold one crane. I wondered what Akshara thought about as she folded her cranes. I became increasingly curious about this young woman, and asked her to share some of her thoughts with me.

Currently a senior at Albany High School in Albany, California, Akshara first came to the United States with her family in 2005 from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

What are your passions?

“I believe my existence is sculptured by the myriad of passions inculcated in me by my parents and teachers. I am passionate not just about education and service to the community, but also the cultivation of an all-around character via hard work and dedication.”

What is your dream for yourself?

“To become a person who can contribute to the peace and welfare of the society.”

What is your dream for the world?

“To see social justice and equality in the world.”

What inspired you to fold one thousand paper cranes?

“The initiative that you established had made me fully identify with and be stimulated by the story of Sadako Sasaki. Sasaki’s determination and objective, which encapsulate my vision of peace, inspired me to contribute to her purpose in some way. Accordingly, I formed a club at my school through which I worked toward the goal of making one thousand origami paper cranes in an effort to not only serve the community, but also to resonate with the symbolic nature of cranes in Japan. I am fascinated by the penetrating cultural significance behind the making of one thousand cranes. Metaphorically, they represent  “eternal flames” for world peace and are believed to bestow powerful luck, charm, and prosperity upon their makers and recipients.”

What message would you like to give to the leaders of the world with respect to peace?

“I would like to concur with the view of one of the great philosophers about incorporating a certain spiritual and humanitarian approach to world leadership. I perceive that conflicts around the world arise from a misunderstanding of each person’s humanness. That is, on a spiritual realm, because hatred and fighting cannot produce happiness to anyone, we need to have a sensitive comprehension of our common human situation.”

“I would like to proffer that indeed it is time for world leaders to learn to transcend the differences of race, culture, and ideology and to regard everyone through eyes that see a common humanness. This would not only bring about peace to individuals and the world at large, but also will make our societies more compassionate, just, and equitable.”

What advice can you give to adults for bringing more peace into their lives?

“I can advise adults to live with more compassion and to be humanely responsive. As humans get older, we all need to be more psychologically closer to others irrespective of their status in order to maintain peace in our lives.”

“The more open we are toward equality and imaginativeness, the more at peace we will be as we develop. I believe all adults should exercise a sense of reverence and consideration beneficial to others and themselves as well.”

The United Nations International Day of Peace was created to recognize the efforts of those who have worked to end conflict and promote peace. It is also a day of personal and political ceasefire. Imagine not needing an International Day of Peace because cooperation, mutual respect, and tolerance are the norm. Imagine countries without borders, all women and children protected and honored as sacred, and no one allowed to go hungry or left abandoned on any street.

What might your gesture of peace be in honor of this day? “Begin where you are standing”, my friend and mentor, Kimmy Johnson, would advise. Being peace is the equivalent of exercising a muscle that we bring mindfulness to every moment of every day. Sure, we all slip up now and then, because we are human, but we must always return to peace. We must always return to our ideal values that we envision for our children, future generations, and our sacred Earth.

I praise you, Akshara Sree Challa, for your initiative, vision, and commitment! You give me hope for the planet, and I salute your leadership and inspiring beauty on this year’s International Day of Peace, 2013. Thank you for carrying the torch and lighting the way for others to follow! Thank you for reaching out to me and for caring so much.

With humble reverence,




As always, thank you for reading and sharing. Do you know a young person in your community who inspires with their leadership and compassion for the world? Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them and support their example. Peace is every step!


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