by Montaser Amro
My name is Montaser Mohammad Mousa Khalil Suliman Mohammad Abdulrahman Mohammad Amro, but you can call me Mono. Recently, however, since returning to America, many people have had troubles with Mono, so I’m considering making it even simpler- Mike. Maybe even M. My story and the reason WHY I’m here, however, is not simple.
See, I’ve been an advocate for peace for almost ten years, and I believe that not only does peace come from within, but I believe that we can create change. I was born in Bethlehem, Palestine on February 20, 1991 to Mohammad and Lamia Amro. My parents expected the best from me. This caused me to excel academically from a young age. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was selected to be an international foreign exchange student. I was elated because I was going to finally see the America that had starred in all of my favorite movies. But where was I going? Would I be heading to the city that never sleeps, New York? Or maybe I could spend my academic year in the Windy City- Chicago, Illinois. Maybe I could create memories that could only stay in the city of Las Vegas! I eagerly awaited the announcement of where my cultural learning would take place in the states. However, my excitement came to a screeching halt when I read the name of a state I had never heard of before- Alabama. Little did I know, Alabama was the epitome of racial oppression, even in present day. My work was definitely cut out for me.
I arrived in the fall of 2006 and quickly realized that I could not live in this state for long. After several terrible living situations, I knew I had find a new host in Alabama or just return to Palestine and go back to the life I knew. The only person’s number I had in my phone was a guy I didn’t like each other very much, but I knew that he was a loyal guy. Corey ended up letting me move into his house, and even became my legal guardian while in the states! This experience dramatically changed my life, as well as my perception and tolerance of others, mainly because Corey and I hated each other in the beginning. After moving in, we spent many nights comparing Islam to Christianity, talking about racism and music. However, our deepest conversations stemmed around a subject that we both were passionate about- food. He soon started referring to me as his brother and showed me that not all Americans are the same.
Saying goodbye at the summer of 2007 was not an easy thing to do, even when just a few months prior, I was begging to go back home. I realized during my visit that no two people are alike. However, it didn’t stop at someone’s nationality, it also extended to their religious beliefs. Famous, influential musician John Lennon said it best when he said, “I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
These spiritual leaders had many messages, verses and direction. However, every word ever spoken by them was deeply rooted by one simple message- love. It was also John Lennon that helped coin the phrase “all you need is love.” This message is so simple, yet so influential. All you need is love. The world does not need us. The world does not need the Bible, the Quran or any other religious text. Because that’s all it is- text. It is a tangible thing. However, love is intangible. It can not be physically touched, but can be felt. Love does not have an image, but can be seen. It can not make a noise, but can be heard. Love is the most complex, confusing, terrifying yet gorgeous and fascinating thing that will be a part of this Earth for eternity…as long as we let it.
After returning back to Palestine, I pursued a degree in Civil Engineering from Palestine Polytechnic University. While I was a senior in college , I decided to set my sights on my true passion- bringing peace. I searched around for different ways to help, and stumbled across an organization called Kids 4 Peace. I immediately enrolled to become an Advisor !
People often ask me what Kids4Peace means to me. There is no simple answer to this. When you truly have a passion for something, you’re following everything with your heart- not your mind. Therefore, I can not quite put a simple answer into words. However, I reflect on my past. I think back to the days that I vowed to see Israel fall. I think back to the days that I viewed America as a corrupted country. I then think back not too long ago when my mind was changed and I realized I was wrong. I could not continue to live life generalizing every culture.
Kids 4 Peace has helped me utilize my tools to show that love can overcome anything. To quote another wise man, Master Yoda, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Kids 4 Peace taught me that love can make us brave. Love can bring joy and can end the suffering.
During the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of 2014, there were 2200 reported deaths on both sides. However, the true numbers will never be known. What can be known is that during the same year, Kids 4 Peace held a camp with over 100 campers from both conflicting sides. If each camper told 10 people of their enlightened time spent with the organization, we could reach almost half the number of the reported casualties…in one year. Amazing. The organization is still young, and so is my role within it. However, I plan on being an integral part of this organization for however long they allow me. I feel my purpose on this Earth is to make change and bring peace. Change starts young, with kids. I can bring change with Kids 4 Peace.
I would love to thank the organization for helping me come back to where I now call home- America. I would also like to thank them for allowing me the oppurtunity to create the change that my heart aches for every day. Many people walk through life wondering what purpose does their life have. I’m privileged to not only know what my purpose is, but be able to fulfill it. I would not be able to do this without the help of Kids 4 Peace, their staff and especially their donors. No matter the amount of resource you donate to us, we would not be able to do anything without your help. We are the vehicle driving peace, but our donors are the drivers, and for that, we are forever indebted to you for your selfless contributions. We are nothing without you. Thank you.