Middle East exchange student Haytham Mohanna and the Thunder Mountain High School Art Club presented an origami peacock of peace to the Alaska State Legislature on Monday. The peacock is made of more than 2,000 pieces of folded paper.
Mohanna says the peacock represents the dreams of the people of Gaza, his home country.
“I hope this peacock, which symbolizes the peace, go in each mind and each heart, and really rise our mind about the wars and conflicts,” Mohanna says.
Mohanna is studying at Haines High School through an exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department.
He learned how to make an origami peacock from a teacher in Gaza and taught the process to Thunder Mountain art club students while he was visiting Juneau. It took the club three months to fold more than 2,000 pieces of paper. The peacock is about three feet wide and two feet tall.
Art club coordinator Heather Ridgway says she didn’t immediately know where the peacock should be displayed. She wanted it to be in a place where it could inspire people.
“It was like, ‘Oh, of course, we’ll take it to the capitol. They are working on major issues that require everyone to commit time and attention and do a careful job and work together and be patient, just like making this peacock. Let’s give it to the legislature,’” Ridgway says.
Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan calls Mohanna an artist and says the peacock will definitely inspire visitors to the capitol and lawmakers.
“I can guarantee you that people will reflect on it and hopefully bring good things and remember that, you know, we’re all trying to come in peace,” Egan says.
Until a permanent place can be found for the origami peacock, it’s temporarily displayed in the House Speaker’s Chambers.