- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - An exchange student from Palestine joined by art students of Thunder Mountain High School presented the Legislature with an origami peacock Monday at the Capitol. The peacock, a symbol of peace in Palestine, took a total of three months to complete and about 150 hours of folding paper.

Haytham Mohanna, a 16-year-old exchange student from Gaza, spent the school year studying in Haines and presented his own, independently made origami peacock to his exchange school.

With his efforts recognized, Mohanna met with THMS art teacher Heather Ridgway to help conduct a workshop with her students on how to fold and assemble their own. Mohanna made several trips to Juneau to assist with the project’s progress.

“As part of (Mohanna‘s) year in Haines, sharing his love for origami has been very satisfying because it is expresses his appreciation outside of language and cultural barriers,” Ridgway said. “He’s practiced (this pattern) so many times he has it memorized. Over the course of four visits, three months and many hours of independent folding, we now have our own peacock of peace.”

ohanna was introduced to the art of origami at the age of 10, and has since mastered the art of 3D origami. He has made “too many” origami projects to count, but it’s the peacock that holds true meaning for him.

“This peacock is full of precious things that we lack,” Mohanna said. “It symbolizes the peace and the dreams of the people of my home, Palestine. As a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, we all dream about peace, freedom and the human rights. This is our aim … let’s end the inhumanity of wars and armed conflicts which kill so many innocent kids, women and men. Today, one by one, hand in hand, let’s fly over any problem and stop the war.”

Those present, including members of the Juneau delegation, marveled at the “magnificent” craftsmanship of origami as it was presented.

Mohanna said delivering the gift was meaningful for him because “this gift symbolizes the peace which we all dream about.”

“Being here in … the Legislature and giving this peacock which symbolizes peace, is really something for me. I can’t describe it. It’s kind of emotional.”

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com


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