When Gerard Edery picks up his guitar tonight for an audience at St. Norbert College, he is continuing his mission to uncover songs from different cultures in order to find similarities and common themes.
Edery, who speaks four languages fluently and sings in 15, sees music as the key to embracing diversity and thereby encouraging peace.
"When people put down their guns and pick up their instruments, they can really see the person in front of them," he said in a recent interview with Press-Gazette Media. He will perform tonight as part of The Norman and Louis Miller Lecture in Public Understanding series, which promotes unity, communication and tolerance among different cultures, religions, ethnicities and traditions.
For many, Edery's talent will entertain. But it's also sending an important message - one that St. Norbert's Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding, in conjunction with Press-Gazette Media, encourages through its annual essay contest: We have a responsibility to understand other cultures.
The essay contest calls on high school students to share their thoughts on diversity-related issues. And those students respond enthusiastically each year with thoughtful, articulate takes on the need for a better understanding of each other. Once again this year, three of those students will be awarded scholarships and technological tools to further their education in a ceremony held before Edery's performance tonight.
Press-Gazette Media partners with the center to promote the effort, which this year centered on the theme "the importance of understanding other cultures."
Students were asked how increased understanding between cultures can improve our communities and what of their own observations and experiences convinced them we have a responsibility to broaden our understanding of cultures beyond our own. Look to Sunday's Perspective page in the Green Bay Press-Gazette and at greenbaypressgazette.com to learn more about their answers.
As this community continues to grow and becomes increasingly diverse, the need for these types of events is even greater. It allows all residents to learn a little more and to take a step back to appreciate what diversity brings to a community. That opportunity to immerse ourselves in it in this style is invaluable, and Edery's performance promises to bring that message home.