by Ellen, Kids4Peace Evaluation Intern for the USIP Evaluation Grant
I had the chance to be a fly on the wall at K4P for the past few weeks. With the help of my oldest and closest friend and K4P staff member, Meredith, I completed a practicum as part of attaining my Masters in Organizational Psychology. I have been in and out of the office working on different projects, while I also had the privilege to attend the first of four USIP focus groups to evaluate K4P, a memorable and moving experience.
I had heard about K4P for many years from Meredith, but I didn’t really understand the work that they do until I saw it for myself. That being said, I do not speak on behalf of K4P staff, I speak only of what I witnessed:
I misunderstood what K4P really does. I thought it was an organization that aimed to build interfaith communities, embody a culture of peace, and empower a change movement through Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youths and while this is all true, it is also an organization that engages parents and staff in the same way and just as deeply. To engage with K4P means you are expected to be an introspective and participative member of the community.
While I previously understood at least parts of the complexity of the conflict, I did not understand the extent of what it means to work as a peacemaker and try and impact a world in which you exist in your everyday life. Depending on when and where you were born and what you were born as, there are a combination of everyday and large scale privileges and limitations to your daily existence. There are endless variations of religion, culture, citizenship, and commute to name only a few. K4P work requires a vulnerability I had to see with my own eyes to begin to understand.
I have been blown away by the power of friendship. It seems because of the meaningful relationships K4P staff have built with one another, they have more capacity to respect each other, to trust one another, to have open and honest communication, and this foundation allows them to support a wider community. While it seems many K4P staff experience struggle to varying degrees in wholly understanding “the other”, the strength of their personal relationships seems to have humanized “the other” at least on an interpersonal level. Their behavior illuminates their deep sense of safety with each other.
I hope to remain an honorary member of K4P. I leave with a sense of gratitude that despite so many obstacles, I have witnessed powerful intent for change and such authentic humanity.