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How can we take the message of Kids4Peace and bring it to a larger audience? How can games and competition be used to build empathy? Can trading cards really change the world?

On March 22, the youth of Kids4Peace Seattle thought about all of these questions and more. For our monthly meeting, we partnered with Victoria Moreland, a graduate student in the Organization Systems Renewal Program at Pinchot University, who led us in a design thinking exercise to develop a set of trading cards (like baseball cards, or Magic: The Gathering) that would capture some of the work we do in Kids4Peace.


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Over the course of the afternoon, we reflected on the definition of empathy, and then spent time brainstorming different ways that messages of empathy and compassion could be transmitted through the use of trading cards.

We split up into four groups and spent about half an hour building a prototype deck of cards. Once the prototypes were complete, we rotated through the different groups, seeing how the cards would be used in real life. We also gave and received feedback to improve each set of cards. Here are the four ideas our youth developed:

  • A set of cards, each of which has a compassionate action that an individual can take (e.g. “Sit next to someone at lunch who is sitting by himself/herself.”) Once you have completed the action, you would pass on the card to someone else and encourage him or her to take the same action.
  • A set of cards, each of which has an image of a person who is feeling a certain emotion (e.g. Hannah the Happy, Aaron the Angry, Samir the Sad), together with words that help to describe that emotion. In a group, each individual would pick a card that describes an emotion they are currently feeling, and then would describe why they are feeling that way. The rest of the group can then provide an empathic response.
  • A game similar to Apples to Apples, where each player is dealt a set of “Feelings” cards. Then, one player draws an “Expressions” card that shows a face expressing a certain emotion. Each player puts down the Feelings card they think most closely matches the facial expression. The player who drew the Expressions card judges which feeling best matches the face.
  • A Choose Your Own Adventure-style of game, in which participants are presented with a scenario and then face a series of choices of actions based on that scenario. Some options are more empathic than others, and those options earn more points for the player.

It was amazing what we were able to produce in just one afternoon. Our youth were excited to keep working on their games and sharing them with others, so keep an eye out for them at a Kids4Peace camp this summer! Special thanks to Victoria Moreland for leading us in this exercise.

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by Dandan, K4P Intern

“How do we see the individual in the midst of the group?” asked Rawan to the circle of Leap and Roots educators in the small K4P office on Thursday, March 12. This was the central question that guided the group’s reflection as they met to plan activities and approaches for the upcoming K4P student gatherings.

DSC_0782Rawan is the Executive Director of Building Bridges, a nonprofit that aims to empower Israeli and Palestinian women with communication and leadership skills needed to address the root causes of conflict. Drawing upon her extensive experience in education and social work, she first asked the counselors to list the qualities they would like to create in the environment for the kids.

Here’s what the counselors came up with:
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Rawan zeroed in on “loved” as the cornerstone quality. She discussed the importance of redefining “love” as one that takes into account the boundaries between personal and professional. “How can you be the kids’ counselor but also a supportive friend?” she asked. The right approach revolved around setting the ground for rules from the very beginning.

After focusing on positive qualities, Rawan turned the cards and asked the counselors to list the feelings they would not like to create in the meeting environment:

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“As a counselor, it is your responsibility to have these qualities in mind,” said Rawan.

“These kids come with stories of their own and have lives outside of the K4P group setting. It’s important you don’t make part of the individual’s identity invisible…As counselors, you are not the center. The kids are. Once you move yourself out of the center, you will have a better lens to see what’s going on.”

Afterwards, she encouraged the counselors to think about what could improve in their groups.

Michal, a Jewish advisor, mentioned the need to increase the feeling of group belonging, since this year, her group was formed from many small groups from the years before. Mariam, a Christian advisor, expressed the need to enforce a sense of mutual purpose, since she felt her group needed to reconnect with why they came in the beginning. Nadine, another Christian advisor, said she wanted the older groups to feel more empowered to make change.DSC_0814

The reflection session didn’t end with answers as it did with more questions.

“What is your belief system and how does that influence your own behavior?”

“What are your fears and how do they affect your actions?”

These were the questions the educators were left thinking about, as they broke into groups to plan for their upcoming K4P gatherings.

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by Michal Ner-David, Jewish Advisor, Jerusalem

The past year in Israel, but especially in Jerusalem, has been horrifying. First there was the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish young men on their way home from school, then Operation “Protective Edge”, then the murder of an Arab teenager by a Jewish gang, and then an unleashing of racism and violence–sometimes deadly–coming from both sides that included an the attack on a synagogue in Har-Nof, Jerusalem. At times I ask myself why I am still living here. And then I think of  People like Pastor Josh Thomas.

Josh is the executive director of Kids4Peace. I met Josh when I was about 15 when I was volunteering at a summer camp with Kids4Peace. After being a camper in 2004, when I was ten years old, I decided to come back as a shepherd  (counselor). Josh has been an inspiration to me since that summer. I now work for Kids4Peace and am a “Jewish Faith Advisor” for the “Leap” group, which is made up of kids in seventh grade, participating in the second year programming of Kids4Peace. This year we have about 50 kids participating, a nearly 100% continuation of the kids from the year before. The Kids4Peace community has grown to 1,800 participants, staff members and volunteers. True to their commitment to “faith in peace,” Kids4Peace children and staff demonstrate great courage in the midst of conflict – refusing to be enemies, choosing to be friends. If anyone can bring peace to the world it is people involved in projects like this one.

My interview with Josh was scheduled for 6pm Jerusalem time. I sat at my computer for a few minutes before Skyping him. I saw a post on FaceBook about a recent attack in Jerusalem, I decided to add a question to my list. Dealing with Jerusalem and peace right now is like playing with fire. So, why focus your work on Jerusalem?  I then proceeded to call Josh on Skype.

“The situation here is all very upsetting, What motivates you to keep going?” I asked.

His answer is a good example of why I find him inspiring: “I realized that we are Creating a community. We are Motivating people to set an example of social change”, he says. “That is what keeps me going. Nowhere else do I know of a place where people of such different religious and political beliefs can come together”.

“Peacemaking and peacebuilding are not foreign concepts to me. I grew up in an environment where this was always talked about. But you didn’t grow up with it. So what inspires you to become apart of this movement of social change?” I asked him.

Josh grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, once a coal mining town, in a Congregationalist Christian community that he describes as “a very conservative, very small town, and therefore a very small world.”  In college he started creating a more critical approach to life than the one he had growing up in a small town.  A professor he worked with was going to work in Bosnia to study the impact of war and violence on the kids in Bosnia growing up after the conflict in the 90’s. He went with him, and this was a life-altering experience. “I was really struck by the way religion and violence were intertwined in Bosnia.  I started asking BIGGER questions”.|

“So when did you become an Episcopalian Christian?” I ask.

I was drawn into the Episcopal Church in college, a community of spiritual seekers who were very accepting and in search of an accepting community.”

“And how did all these things–social change and the Church–come together?” I ask.

Bosnia made me think about how I could reform religions from the inside, to seek change. To bring the voice of peace. I then stayed in college for two extra years as the campus Chaplain. Everything started coming together.

After college Josh went to Seminary and only then was truly exposed to the world of interfaith. Josh went to Seminary in NYC across the street from a Jewish Seminary (JTS – Jewish Theological  Seminary), where they sometimes studied together. He also took classes on Zen meditation. Josh went through his studies with the following question in mind: “How does one do religious education in a multi-faith world?” He says he felt he had “an opportunity to be a person of influence from within a religious tradition.”

Josh does not work with a localized congregation in his pastoral work. “My congregation is spread around ten different time zones, three religions, three languages, and many cultures. I feel like I am the Pastor of Kids4Peace.”

I feel that way too. This past summer Josh came to visit us at camp for a few days and I stayed up with him until late at night discussing all sorts of faith based issues both in Kids4Peace and my personal life. Not only do I see Josh as the spiritual leader of Kids4Peace, but he is definitely one of my personal spiritual guides as well.

What I love about Kids4Peace is that we are not asking people to give up their faiths to work towards peace; rather, we want them to work on peace together. “Bringing together peoples’ hopes and dreams with the practicality of their own religion. This is definitely a main goal of ours at Kids4Peace,” Josh explained to me.

Sometimes in living in a country where reading the news and hearing about a faith, or cultural based violent attack becomes a “normal” thing, you begin to ask questions, Have we made an influence? Have we made a change?

I asked Josh what he thinks about this. He answered: “Visiting Jerusalem after a summer of violence and seeing the community grow, and seeing that power…. In Buddhism they talk about the  power of the Thanga, an energy that comes from the community. Our Thanga is cookin’.  We are the largest and most diverse interfaith youth organization in Jerusalem. We are growing. We are shifting the norm. We are used to growing up apart. Let’s grow up alongside each other. We are on the verge of something very exciting!”

Why religion?” I wonder aloud. “It is so messy, and causes so much trouble.”

Josh then surprises me with a quote not from the New Testament or the Gospels, but from my very own Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Religion’s task is to cultivate disgust for violence and lies, sensitivity to other people’s suffering and the love of peace”.  

He continued: “Peace remains a theological vision of the way the world is supposed to be–according to Christianity. It is the gift that Jesus gives to the people. He wants them to believe that it is something that is present. Kids4Peace’s responsibility is to keep peace ALIVE! Peace is one of the names of God in Islam; we want to bring to life those places where the way the world should be enters the world as it is.”

Coming back to the subject of Jerusalem, I asked, “But isn’t dealing with Jerusalem and peace right now like playing with fire?”

“It is playing with fire,” he says. “The idea of Kids4Peace was born in Jerusalem. It came at a time of violence. It is important to keep it somewhere that the people can actually meet face to face. And it is a city that draws on all three faiths from around the world.”

And finally my last question, the one I have been waiting to ask him. “What is your best tip for a beginning peace activist like myself?”

“Our religions are different. If we want to get beyond ”Kumbaya” and “Hummus”, we  have to understand that we are stepping into the world of radical differences. We have to think hard about what we are willing to sacrifice. What are we willing to compromise? At the end of the day, we may not have the same concerns but we just have to — DIVE IN!
The Kids4Peace methodology has always been–friendships first, conflict next. If I know I love this person, how do I hold the love together with the other things? My beliefs? My religion? If we can do that well, then we have succeeded!”

I want to thank Josh for inspiring me and opening so many doors in the world of social change. I believe, like Josh, that slowly we are on the path to success.

Michal, Jewish Israeli Counselor (Left) with her co-advisor, Monatser, a muslim Palestinian (center), and Fr. Josh Thomas, Executive director of Kids4Peace

by Matt Loper, Executive Director of Kids4Peace Boston

A Sunday in Boston without a snowstorm in what feels like forever and a youth interface conference! Could it get any better? More than thirty Muslim, Jewish, and Christian youth came together from all over the Boston area for team-building activities and interfaith dialogue. Peals of laughter and excited voices filled the interfaith chapel as K4PB youth met and became fast friends with other teenagers from local churches, synagogues, and mosques. And the conversations in dialogue groups and workshops were respectful, thoughtful, and inspiring–just what you’d expect from teenagers committed to peace and interfaith understanding! After all, this was the conference that K4PB youth proposed, organized, and ran.

The day started early for K4PB youth–they showed up, cheerful and excited, to host an interfaith youth conference on Daylight Savings Sunday. The K4PB high school participants took their conference and their responsibilities as hosts seriously. They proposed the idea last year and were involved in its development from inception to the turning off of the last lights in the evening. In preparation for leading workshops and dialogue, the high schoolers have been getting together on many Sundays over the past couple of months to create and practice their presentations and dialogue plans.

Bright smiles flashed everywhere today! K4PB youth welcomed our guests as soon as they arrived and they introduced each guest to his or her K4PB host or hostess or “peace buddy.” The interfaith pairs then participated in fun large group and smaller group activities and got to know each other over snacks and games. They were pals by the time they sat down to listen to our guest speaker, journalist and author Linda K. Wertheimer whose book, Faith Ed: Teaching about Religion in an Age of Intolerance, will be published in the summer of 2015. Linda presented one of her upcoming books’ chapters as a case study and then the youth pairs actively participated in dialogue groups of eight around the issues of intolerance and education and world religions in public school. How bright does our future seem when youth from different religious and socio-economic backgrounds come together and talk and listen so candidly and with such sensitivity!

After dialogue, the youth led or attended their chosen workshop. Some learned words in Hebrew and Arabic; some thought about points their three faiths have in common; others observed and heard about objects sacred in each of the three faiths; the rest considered the place of race, faith, and justice in our world today. Before anyone realized it, it was almost time to say good-bye. But not before a rousing and inspiring closing ceremony! As the youth said their goodbyes, it was evident that each participant would be leaving with a new friend from a religion other than their own and there was no doubt that they were taking home the message that distrust and fear tear us apart but that trust and friendship bring us closer together. Later that evening, when the K4PB hosts were asked “who made a friend today that they’d like to see again?” all of them raised their hands.

In the anonymous program evaluation form, 100% of the youth said that they would recommend the event to a friend. The three words they used most often to explain why were: fun, informative, educational. When asked what they enjoyed most, the youth responded that they loved meeting their peace buddies, leading workshops and dialogues, participating in games, and spending time with other K4PB participants. Kids were pleasantly surprised by their ability to lead workshops and delighted with the openness and enthusiasm with which other youths joined in and participated in the dialogue and conference. When asked to rank their experience, half the participants said that they enjoyed the event overall, the dialogue sessions, and the workshop in which they participated a lot. In a 1-to-5 scale, they gave it a 1.

“It was good to have an event that was for non-K4P kids. I was proud that K4P kids were leaders.” ~ Paris, K4PB teenager.

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by Dandan, Kids4Peace Intern

After several weeks of interviews and workshops, sixty-six families from over fifteen neighborhoods gathered on Wednesday, February 25, at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem to celebrate their acceptance into the K4P Pathway to Peace program. “I was very very happy!” exclaimed Husan, an 11 year old Muslim girl, when describing how she felt when she learned of her admittance.DSC_0571

Haya, an 11 year old Christian girl, also shared Husan’s sentiment:

“I felt really excited and was happy because I got accepted. At first I was scared about the interviews, but then I found there was nothing to be scared about because they only want to see us and know us. Now, I’m excited to meet kids from different religions, who speak different languages, and see how they act and to spend time with them.”

DSC_0642Upon arrival, each family found their child’s name tag lined neatly on the registration table. Each tag had a color spot to denote which of the 4 summer camps the child would attend. The banquet hall quickly filled with families greeting each other, some happy to reencounter ones they had met during the interview process.

Andre, a Christian parent, recounted why he was excited to be there with his daughter:

DSC_0626“To know other people’s ideas and cultures is a chance we don’t have, especially in our environment. We don’t have all the different groups, the different religions, even different cultures and minds…I hope she will learn to know how the other people think—maybe it will change her ideas about the other. By this program, she has everything in front of her own eyes, not hearing from other people and she will choose her own way. I will let her decide.”

This first-year kick-off event began with greetings and introductions from the K4P directors, staff, and summer camp counselors. Then, the K4P video was shown, as some of the counselors giggled on the side when their face came up on screen. A few were relieved from their embarrassment when  Micah, the leader of the YMCA Youth Choir began his special guest performance. Micha taught everyone a Kids4Peace favorite song, ‘We can See that Peace is Coming” in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Soon, melodic shalom and salaam’s interwove a festive rhythm throughout the room.

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The families broke up into their respective groups: Boston, New Hampshire-Vermont, North Carolina, and Seattle, where they got to meet their camp leaders, counselors, and fellow families all together for the first time. Each group began with a few ice-breakers, including the “Name Game,” when every person in the circle took turns saying their names, accompanying it with a movement. The whole group then had to follow, repeating the name and movement.

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Parents soon found themselves jumping up and down with their kids, as if summer camp had started already. Afterwards, each family created a photo card together that listed some basic information about them, including their name, neighborhood, parents’ profession, faith, and favorite hobbies. In a circle, each child became the family representative and shared their card.

A sweet intercession took place in the hallways, where families mingled more over rugalach and cake. Before leaving, they reconvened with their groups so the advisors could share some important logistical information.

DSC_0752When reflecting over how he felt at the end of the night, Yair, a first-time Jewish Advisor for the North Carolina group, said: 

“I’m excited about everything. I really like how kids from different faiths and nationalities come together. It’s something I didn’t have as a child and I think it’s the best thing that can bring about a different future, a different reality from what we have now.

I’m also really excited to see in this meeting and in the previous meetings how kids can just not fear and just see the other kids, and that’s it. It’s beautiful to see that for kids, it’s so much easier to let go of the perception of the others as enemies.”
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Laura PicName: Laura Brogan

Position: Board Member

Educational Background:

B.A. in Nonprofit Management from Mount Olive College; M.A. in Ethics, Peace & Global Affairs from American University.

Published in the Journal of International Studies on the topic of child combatants, specifically the long-term effects of conflict on youth who are active participants in the conflict.

Currently working in the DC area in human resources for an international nonprofit.

How did you get involved with Kids4Peace?

“I was looking to volunteer for a great organization. Since my skill set is in organizational development and I wanted to work at the strategic level of an organization, being on a board of directors seemed like the best fit. The Kids4Peace board is a great opportunity to use my professional skills, as well as my education in peacebuilding, to support a great organization I am passionate about.”

What do you most look forward to in working on the board?

“I am most excited about working to ensure that Kids4Peace has healthy and sustainable growth; that the systems and infrastructures exist to support the staff and volunteers in doing the hard work of peacebuilding. The board should ensure that the organization is headed in the right direction and that staff and volunteers have clarity on the mission and the resources and support they need to make it happen!”

“I was in Jerusalem last month and as an outsider I got to experience a little bit of what it is like to live in such a divided society. It was enlightening and helped me become more aware of some of the divisions in my own community; the experience showed me that I can also be an advocate for peace in my own city of Washington, DC.”

What challenges do you expect to encounter?

“Kids4Peace is in a critical time in it’s organizational development and it will be important to clarify what we are good at as an organization, what is our niche. It will be very important to identify where, and in what contexts, Kids4Peace can provide the tools for divided communities to end conflict and inspire hope. This is some of the hard work the board will be tackling in the coming year.”

by Dandan, K4P Jerusalem Intern

Despite a busy week of exams and colds, 8 K4P high schoolers came together on Thursday, February 12th, for an overnight trip in Jaffa to deepen their skills and commitment to the Video Newsletter Project.  While several students could not attend due to exams or illness, we noticed that the breakdown of Jewish, Christian and Muslim participants remained even. 

DSC_0330“You all have unique stories and a responsibility to share them,” said Meredith Rothbart, Director of Development. “So start noticing and thinking about all these crazy disconnects that are also amazing points of connection. Start thinking about aspects of your daily life that we don’t know about and take for granted.” Pointing to Sewar, a 9th grader who is national tennis champion for Israel she said, “We don’t know what it’s like to be the in top twenty tennis players in Israel as an Arab youth, so tell us!”

DSC_0389This workshop aimed to intensify the students’ imagination and harness their powers of observation through the camera. The first evening was led by Nadav, a Jewish advisor with Roots and photography specialist, who guided the students on a night walk through the Jaffa flee market and asked each student to take three photos of something that caught their eye. “We’re going to try and notice things that interest us in a place where we find ordinary,” said Nadav, as the students exited the Ruth Daniel Hotel with cameras in hand. They all walked past the cafes and warehouses, to the seashore and back to dinner at the hotel. When they reconvened in the hotel’s meeting room, they found their photos printed and strewn across the carpet floor.DSC_0290

Nadav first engaged them in a conversation about the act of creating, asking them questions such as “Why do we create?” Then, the students broke into two groups for an activity in which they had to think of a message and how they wanted to convey it, given they had an unlimited budget and amount of talent.

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A representative of each group listened to the other group’s pitch and presented it to the whole group afterwards. One representative presented a group’s storyboard on “shoes and farting,” and another on a group’s storyboard on “feminism.” From this activity, Carla, a fifteen year old Christian girl, learned: “Different opinions may make the creative process better or more debatable. It is like ‘We are the World’ song made to help Haiti. Having more than one idea makes it more interesting.”

A girls vs. guys competition followed as a break, where a word was written on the board and each group had to think of as many songs that featured the word in two minutes. A point was given only when the group thought of a song that the other group had not listed. It was a close, competitive race, but the girls rose victorious.

Then, the students delved back into the heart of storytelling. Each one chose a photo taken by someone else and told a short story about it. Afterwards, they created a story together, posting the photos on a board to create a storyline. A dentist with yellow teeth, caged white doves, and a BMW escapade formed some of the motifs. Just when the students thought they had finished their story, Nadav threw them other challenges: create a different story with the same sequence of photos, come up with an alternative ending, and start the story from the other end.

“We didn’t walk so far, but look at how many perspectives we have,” said Nadav, closing the evening. The students then ended on a sweet note by going out for ice cream.

DSC_0473The second day featured another special guest: Elahn, founder of Chutzpah Media and a professional video maker who made the K4P promo video in 2012. Many of the students laughed as they saw themselves and classmates on screen two years ago, commenting on how they’ve changed physically. After this flashback, Elahn showed some of his videos to demonstrate the technical elements of shooting, such as camera angles, subject positioning, and music selection.

The students embarked on another walk through Jaffa, this time, using their phones and camcorders provided by K4P. “You’re now changing your way of looking out into the world like it’s a movie. Open your eyes to what’s around you, start to notice things or people and watch them, observe, take notes. You’ll realize there’s a lot more going on,” said Elahn, as he led the students out into the windy market streets. When the students returned, Elahn did a mock interview with George, a 15 year old Christian boy, to give advice on recording others’ stories.DSC_0493

“This isn’t a competition; it’s not about making a hollywood film, but it’s about your lives and the stories you have to tell” said Elahn, before he passed it over back to Meredith who led the final group reflection.

“It was really different from our usual events for Kids4Peace. I liked the photos and how many different stories we came up with. I think the main lesson of this session is to search for things everywhere you are and look always, open your eyes” said Noa, a fifteen year old Jewish student.

Emanuel, another Jewish youth said: “I really liked the whole concept that the weekend was not so much energetic; it was more calm and had less people. Generally I liked the fact that it was very creative and not like most of the K4P things that are more intellectual…I really liked the technical part, how to make the different shots and angles, the do’s and don’ts of interviewing. I’m more excited about this project now. I have so many ideas.”

The kids were asked to think about their video focus and share any ideas with the K4P staff about ways to take their project forward:

“I want to let the project come from you guys. We want to figure out the best way to enable you to go through the creative process and provide the skills to make your video what you want. It’s not like other programs in that ‘This is our curriculum and this is what we want you to learn,’ but it’s an opportunity we want to provide for you so your voice will really be heard,” said Meredith.

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Sponsored by the US Consulate, this project will take the form of a video newsletter in which each student will produce a short film about something important to them. The young adults cohort will work on this project for the next coming months. 

Kids4Peace is constantly growing and developing, striving to expand its influence and steer the world towards peace. Kids4Peace is gearing up for another expansion in programming this summer with a new Kids4Peace summer camp in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I got the chance to sit down with the newly hired camp director for North Carolina, David Rowan who told me about his preparations for the summer and his thoughts toward the future.

David Pic 1David described the connections he formed over the years with Kids4Peace. He began as an intern, writing up stories on different members of the organization just as I am. Additionally, he studied at the Arava Institute in Israel. This collegiate program consisted of an American, Israeli, and Palestinian student body working with the idea that nature knows no borders. They worked to resolve environmental issues that affect us all regardless of background. David also worked as a professional poker player, which despite first impressions, may have a lot more to do with Kids4Peace than you would think.

“As a poker player I had to make decisions rapidly, being at peace with the way things unfold and practicing acceptance. In this job, you can only plan so much. Things happen and you can only act accordingly.”

David and I also discussed what his role will be this summer as camp director. The director is the point person from which all other leaders coalesce. He emphasized that he will not be “in charge but will field questions and empower everybody to do their best work.”

This summer will be David’s first camp so I asked what he most looks forward to.

“I look forward to being with the kids. I am excited about planning, and I love being in go mode. I want to help answer questions and think out of the box; challenge them and be challenged.

“Children are powerful teachers. We can learn so much from their sense of wonder and dexterous, beginners’ minds.”

Being an active member of the community is also high on the list of priorities for David. He told me that he was eager to use his connections in the Jewish Community to “throw Kids4Peace in the mix, especially local.”

I also asked what David imagines for challenges in his first camp.

“Having no experience in this first year is a big responsibility. The first step is always the hardest and it takes time to get adjusted.”

“This is a serious endeavor and I will treat it as such. It is an opportunity to plant seeds that will, in our lifetimes, lead to sustainable peace. Education is the pathway to let people open up and see each other.”

The new North Carolina camp is sure to be a successful addition to the Kids4Peace family, working to grow and develop young people in interfaith dialogue. Good luck to David and all those involved in all camps this summer! Your work is appreciated and your impact is tremendous.

Susan | Vice Chair

danielleives —  February 13, 2015 — Leave a comment

Name: Susan Blochsusan pic

Position: Vice Chair of Kids4Peace International

How did you get involved with Kids4Peace?

My dream was to apply my corporate experience, where global, multicultural, multi-faith and virtual teams form a foundation of organizational performance to Kids4Peace. I applied for the role of board member to fulfill my aspirations and strive to enhance communication and compassion across culture, faith and race.  Having lived in Israel for 20 years has given me insights into the successes, complexities, challenges of living and working in in a society struggling with conflict. Kids4Peace strives to facilitate dialogue and harness understanding of others.

What are the favorite aspects of your job and Kids4Peace?

Kids4Peace team is driven by shared values, and a mission to diffuse conflict and build understanding in multi-faith communities and countries.  The impact we make on individuals and families and how they go about their daily lives is enormous. The diversity of our team is a core strength and enables us to strive to develop the next generation of peacemakers.

What are your goals in your position as Vice Chair of Kids4Peace International?

We aim to grow the organization, reach out to more kids and more families and have a real impact in communities and society as a whole.

By: Dandan, K4P Jerusalem Intern

On Thursday, February 5, 8th graders joined their parents and faith advisors for a private screening of the film “Dancing Arabs” at Cinema City in Jerusalem. Now in their third year in Kids4Peace, these students now belong to the Roots group, which focuses on identity, racism, and responsibility.

When reflecting over his past two years in the Pathway to Peace program, Omri, a 13 year old Jewish boy, said: “It has really helped me that I knew others outside from my school and my community, and when they talk about the news and things that happened, I don’t think ‘oh all of this they’re all like that.’ I think about my friends. Now I see things from other perspectives.”

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Released on December 2013, “Dancing Arabs,” directed by Eran Riklis, is based on a semi-autobiographical story written by Sayed Kashua. On the surface, it is the story of a brilliant young Palestinian boy named Eyad who wins a scholarship to attend the most prestigious art and science academy in Jerusalem. There, he falls in love with a Jewish Israeli girl named Naomi, and the development of their relationship takes center stage. Sharing the stage is Eyad’s budding friendship with a wheel-chair bound Jew named Yonatan who slowly loses control of his body from Lou-Gehrig’s disease. Throughout the film, the lighthearted comedic opening transitions into a hard reality where political climates change; decisions bring distance; and, death makes its guest appearance. In the end, there was a heavy emotional atmosphere in the room. A few parents could relate so deeply to the events portrayed on screen that they said, “That’s my story.”

After the screening, the kids and parents moved into their discussion groups, where faith advisors asked a few questions about the film such as: “What are your first reactions to the film?” “To which character were you able to relate to?” “How did you feel in regards to the relationships between the Palestinian and Jewish youth?

 

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“What message are you taking away from the film?” asked Nadav, a Jewish advisor, as a closing question to his discussion group.

Adam, another 13 year old Jewish boy, said: “That we have things to fix.”