We kicked of the global institute today and so far it’s been a major success. The morning was spent familiarizing ourselves with one another and discussing guidelines that formed our community agreement; an agreement that will allow our time together to be productive and respectful on all accounts. We took time to reflect on our experience at Kids4Peace in our hometowns, and what we have learned from our participation.
“We may have different beliefs and religions but we are all similar in that we are all striving to make the world a better place.” – David, Christian, Kids4Peace Boston.
LearnServe International and Hear My Voice joined us this afternoon and introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship and provided us with tools to work on creating a solution to issues that are currently facing people and places all over the world. The issues brought up included climate change, bullying, access to education, disabilities awareness, and others. Our youth used LearnServe’s Problem Tree Method to find solutions to different problems that affected their communities. This method involves understanding the root of the problem and considering the effects that branch from this issue. There was a great deal of focus placed on educating the younger generation about current issues and situations, in order to prevent ignorance from having a negative influence on society. Two participants spoke about the importance of hearing all perspectives to an issue and the issue of ignorance:
“You need to see the validity of the other side of the argument and not only shoot down ideas because you don’t agree with them. Our younger generation is often shot down and said to not be capable of making any changes because we don’t understand the situation, but the perception of our inability to change things is false.” – Hallel, Jewish, Philadelphia
“The root of so many of the problems we’ve been discussing is ignorance. Do your research, don’t believe everything you hear without checking the facts first. Share your opinion but only if it’s based off of the truth. You don’t have to accept someone else’s beliefs as long as understand them and are willing to listen.” – Evan, Christian, Kids4Peace Seattle
LearnServe explained that it is not always possible to address the entirety of a problem but that should not discourage efforts. A centralized focus on specific aspects of a problem can allow for a greater impact, and that impact can then effect even greater change. The issues and possible solutions that were discussed today are a part of the personal plan work that the youth will be focusing on next year, after graduating the Global Institute. Scott said it best when he explained that; “this is not the end of the conversation but the start of it and the beginning of working towards a solution on the problems that you’ve been discussing.”
We were privileged to hear from Aaron Jenkins from the Expectations Project this evening, to discuss the challenges we face and how to push past the hard discussions in order to have a meaning conversation and create change. Aaron explained the importance of surrounding oneself with people who are optimistic and believe that change is possible. Movements like Kids4Peace and The Expectations Project, and those who are involved in them, are examples of such optimism in the power of change. Incredible signs of leadership were displayed today passion and desire that these youth have to make a real change is inspiring.