September 25, 2017
Ken E. Nwadike Jr., more commonly known as the "Free Hugs Guy," brought his brand of conflict resolution to campus recently in celebration of International Peace Day.
A nonviolent peace activist, inspirational speaker and video journalist, Nwadike is the founder of the Free Hugs Project, which has gained popularity across news outlets and social media since its inception in 2014.
The Free Hugs Project was born at the Boston Marathon that year, which Nwadike attended to spread love and encouragement to the runners in the aftermath of the 2013 terror attack . He raised the spirits of participants along the race route, and the video he captured made national news headlines.
Since then, Nwadike has taken his message of love and encouragement around the world. The Free Hugs Project has garnered millions of followers and fans for effectively de-escalating violence and hate speech during riots, protests and political rallies, including the Standing Rock demonstrations and Charlottesville protests.
During his talk with students, faculty and staff, Nwadike showed YouTube videos of his work, and spoke about being on the frontlines of peacekeeping efforts and how his message of nonviolence and love work on a college campus.
"Fear and hatred will cease to exist when love is in abundance," read a quote displayed behind Nwadike on stage during the talk.
From promoting peaceful dialogue and respectfully educating peers who have different views, to being open to the cultures of others and knowing when to walk away from a conflict, Nwadike's messages and strategies were well-received by the attentive audience.