Written by: Jordan Goldwarg, Global Institute Director and NW Regional Director
On Thursday, July 20, fifty participants in the Kids4Peace Global Institute made their way to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. After days of preparation–which included training in legislative advocacy and public narrative storytelling–the day had arrived to lobby for H.R.1221, a bill in the House of Representatives that would create an international fund for Israeli-Palestinian grassroots peacebuilding efforts.
In meetings with Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Keith Ellison, and over 20 other congressional offices, our youth spoke passionately about their lives in Jerusalem and about the urgency they feel–as Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans–to create a better future for themselves.
When the meetings were over, I asked the group that I had accompanied how they felt about the experience. Given that one Congressman had pledged to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill and another had expressed strong support for the bill, they were unanimously positive about the power they had exercised in these meetings. When I asked whether, when they arrived at the Institute a week earlier, they thought they would be able to do what they had done, one person responded, “I didn’t think I would be able to do this two hours ago!”
Time and again over the past 10 days in DC, our youth took things that they thought they could NOT do, and showed themselves and their peers that, with the help of a supportive community, almost anything is possible.
Other highlights of the week included:
- Briefing State Department officials on the importance of engaging religious communities in peacebuilding efforts in Israel/Palestine
- Briefing officials from the US Institute of Peace on the harsh realities of life on the ground in Jerusalem
- Learning about identity, privilege, and power
- Volunteering with DC Central Kitchen and learning about gentrification and displacement from ONE DC
- Using social entrepreneurship to solve problems in our communities
- Attending worship services at a mosque, synagogue, and church
- Peer-to-peer learning sessions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and social issues in the US
- Exploring media bias at the Newseum
- Visits to Smithsonian museums, the National Mall, and more!
We are so proud of our Global Institute graduates, who proved that they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but are already the leaders of today. We can’t wait to see the impressive things they will continue to do!