Tech celebrates WOW festival

Photo by Marcelo Gonzales

The 21 annual Window on the World festival bestowed its highest award to international peace advocate Linda Ragsdale on April 14.

The Mandala Award honors a community member who embodies the theme of WOW by promoting intercultural understanding. This year’s recipient, Linda Ragsdale, is an award-winning author, illustrator, speaker and educator.

Ragsdale first became an advocate for peace after surviving a terrorist attack in Mumbai, India in 2008. She is the founder of The Peace Dragon, an educational art forum that challenges users to reevaluate their conception of peace.

“The Peace Dragon is a way of exploring and coming to know peace at the primary default in our choice system, rather than being upset or using our fire,” she said. She described this fire as an internal force that drives a person’s anger.

“The Peace Dragon is learning to choose peace first,” she said.

Ragsdale said she was surprised and honored to receive the 2018 Mandala Award.

WOW coordinator Kaitlin Salyer said that the steering committee chooses an individual who has worked to positively impact community views on diversity and inclusion. Salyer said that Ragsdale, a Nashville native, often travels to Cookeville to speak in schools and give back to the community.

“My belief is that if I teach little ones, then they’re the ones who are going to go back and teach their parents,” Ragsdale said. She never charges for these school and library visits. “Peace should not be charged for,” she said.