by Dandan, Kids4Peace Jerusalem Intern
On Thursday, January 22, the quiet hallways of the Anglican International School buzzed with the rambunctious energy of 36 seventh graders as they came together for their first Kids4Peace gathering of the year. Continuing their second year in the Pathway to Peace program, these kids are now in the Leap group, which focuses on the theme of friendship and community.
Maytav, a 12 year old Jewish student, shares his thoughts on this progression: “Now that we’re all together for the second year, I think people can see that it’s not just a one time thing, but something we’re continually doing throughout our lives.” When asked what he hopes to gain out of his second year, he replied: “I hope to gain the ability to make peace and help the world.”
The evening began with an interfaith quiz bowl, in which the kids competed as groups to demonstrate their knowledge of the dress, food, language, culture, and beliefs among the three Abrahamic religions. None of the questions stumped them, as they quickly answered prompts such as: “What are famous pop stars from each faith?” “What are 15 words shared in Hebrew and Arabic?” “Where do Jews, Christians, and Muslims pray?”
Sensing these questions were too easy, the faith advisors decided to kick the game up a notch by starting a race. They asked a triplet series of questions: “How many days of fasting are found in each religion?” “What does fasting represent in these traditions? “Why do they fast?” Whichever group came forth with the answers to all three questions first would win a prize.
Shouting, running, clapping, and laughing ensued, as the kids enthusiastically consulted each other and brought their answers to the faith advisors. The race was a tight one, but one group rose victorious and received notebooks as their prize.
After this warm-up, the main activity began which focused on leadership, a core element of the Leap curriculum. Each group received a biography of a famous leader and wrote down ten facts about their featured person. Discussions about Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Malala Yousafzi, and Rosa Parks were shared among groups and faith advisors. Sometimes, students would translate for their peers. The groups came back together and shared their findings so everyone could receive inspiration from the lives of these four leaders.
Before going home, Omar, a Palestinian Muslim, shared his thoughts on how he felt this year would be different from his first year: “I’m expecting this year to be more serious. I’m expecting more in-depth conversations about the conflict in the Middle East, about identity, and issues that relate to us.” He’s excited to continue this program, considering he felt that his first year in Kids4peace influenced him in positive ways:
“It made me learn; it made me become more aware of my surroundings and meet new people. These are the main things that Kids4peace has achieved, but there are many other things it has achieved within me. Things like making me more mature as a person in everyday life, making my morality better, seeing the other side, and thinking what people of other faiths feel and think about us.”
Reeham, the Director of Education, also hopes this second year will help the students grow in the skills Omar mentioned. In her words: “We need them to listen to each other and build friendships. It is something they want, but they don’t have the full skill set to do so. Developing these skills is our priority this year and will help us next year when we talk about our community, identity, and about the racism we experience everyday in Jerusalem.”