Archives For

On October 8th, 2017, 25 youth participants gathered at the University of Washington to explore some of the differences that can divide us. More importantly, participants and facilitators worked together to strategize how we can overcome difference and step out of our comfort zone to get to know others that we encounter in our daily lives.

The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) and OneWorld Now! (OWN) brought activities and wisdom from their experiences working with diverse youth, joining Kids4Peace Seattle to organize this workshop, which drew youth from around the Greater Seattle area.

dsc_0765-e1507597830297.jpg

As the middle and high school participants gathered they had the opportunity to engage in different activities. From exploring the different religious traditions to being introduced to the many ways to say “hello” around the world, participants began actively thinking about the things that divide us, and their own reactions to these things. The participants became conscious about differences in age, culture, gender, and more, before moving into deeper learning about languages with OWN and cultural differences with FIUTS.

DSC_0759

 

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a person in a language they understand, that goes to their head. If you talk to a person in their language, that goes to their heart.” As youth began their breakout session with OWN, participants got the hang of phrases in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and French, learning a variety of survival phrases like “Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Thank You, Where is the Bathroom, etc”. Not only did they learn to communicate by speaking, they learned how to communicate with their actions.

This exploration of language introduced the youth to challenges they may face when meeting different people. As this session came to a close, youth reflected on the importance of language as a means of connecting with people across language barriers, and began to build empathy and deeper understanding as they encounters others in the future.

DSC_0857

The breakout session with FIUTS began by assigning a few people in the group a specific behavior. Because some of these behaviors were a little bit silly, this immediately broke the ice and began a deep discussion on what it is like when your actions, specifically the ones rooted in your culture, are misunderstood by those around you. Using the analogy of an iceberg, youth explored the 20 percent of culture that is visible above the surface, and the other 80 percent hidden under the water. The fact that you may only see a small part of a person requires the often difficult work of digging deeper to become aware of the things that make them unique.

DSC_0859

As the event came to a close, whether it meant telling a friend about what they had learned, writing a story for their school newspaper, or posting on social media some of their takeaways (#dialogueacrossdifference), all of the participants were challenged to find a way to take action in the coming week!

Just as we asked all of our youth participants, how can you be inspired to engage in conversation with someone who is different than you?

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

In honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on September 21st, youth in Kids4Peace Seattle share their reflections on peace:

“Peace is the acceptance of others in all communities across the world.”

–Jacob, 10th Grade

Dialogue - Three Photos

“Life is a constant battle for peace. Those who choose to advocate are the warriors.”

–Tallulah, 10th Grade

IMG-20170720-WA0021

“Peace is the bridge between anger and love.”

–Alex, 9th Grade

20161125_120347

“We can find peace everywhere, we just have to look.”

–Annabelle, 8th Grade

This past spring, youth from Seattle shared about their experiences in KidsPeace. Together they shared their story about the meaning and impact of this work in their lives and in their communities. As you hear their story in the video below, we invite you to reflect on your own stories and definitions of peace.

We truly believe that together, peace is possible.

Kids4Peace Cincinnati

“It’s a revolutionary concept when you think about it which is to create tolerance at an early age and even, I would call it, passion or love for each other’s faiths and backgrounds, is huge.”
-Jacob Young, Counselor 2016

Passion for others experience flourished at the Kids4Peace Day Camp in Cincinnati, Ohio. This harmony amongst the campers was birthed from what Ryan Houston, a reporter with The Now Cincinnati who spent a day with the campers, calls a goal of showing the campers “we’re not all that different after all”. Jack, a camper, certainly found this to be true, noting that “we’re actually very similar,… and we worship one God, and actually the same God too.” Learning of these crucial similarities has helped Jack to also feel like he “has more empathy for other people of different ethnicities.” Another camper Jocelyn, a rising seventh grader from Wilmington, has had her perspective shaped since learning more about other faith tradition as well, finding she can now “see out more into the world the troubles that each religion is facing”. Upon visiting a Jewish House of Worship, the Adath Israel Synagogue, Katie, a rising seventh grader from Wyoming, discovered a significant similarity between the Jewish service and her own faith community “in that they teach you to be nice to one another and make the world a better place”.

However, being nice was put to the test as the campers formed a Human Knot- an activity in which campers stand in a circle and join hands until a monstrous lump of intertwined limbs remains. The challenge: become unraveled. As one can likely guess and as Lourdes, a rising seventh grader from Cincinnati, can confirm, everyone was “laughing all about it while they were stuck”. Lourdes found the moments of laughter to be quite meaningful- “At least we were laughing!” However, between the laughing and the “relief of finishing it and successfully getting untangled” lies quite a bit of hard work and communication. Kai, a rising eighth grader from Cincinnati, actually relished the teamwork, and seeing that “everybody was working together” was his favorite thing about the activity.

That teamwork led to the formation of trust in the community: Lourdes had to “trust that DSC_8608they care about me being stuck like they do”, Kai still had to trust that they would eventually be untangled “even though they realized they had an impossible knot.” A little trust goes a long way. Especially for Noura, to whom her fellow campers “are very important”. She trusts them, for “they treat her like family”. This being her second year in the program, returning to camp felt like “oh, we’re back home”. And for Noura, who has experienced discrimination at school, and many others, a loving community helps with facing the world each day.

Luckily, these campers seem ready to lead change in their many communities following camp. Jocelyn was inspired by learning some of Jesus’ Parables from the Christian faith. Particularly, the stories of the mustard seed and Good Samaritan have helped her to realize she “can help anybody no matter what the cause and no matter how small of an idea I have, I can grow it into a larger one.” Being the only Jewish person at her school, she seeks to “share and teach people about her own faith,” much like the mustard seed.

Isaac, a rising seventh grader from Milford, feels prepared to create change after learning more about Islam. Gaining more knowledge “makes him more aware of what they do, so that I can become a better friend to those who have been bullied”. He also seeks to bring peace by following the commandments of Judaism such as “giving tzedaka to the poor, treating your neighbor with respect, and loving all creatures”.

Wali feels empowered as a part of the Kids4Peace community, believing “it’s really great that kids do” the program, for “adults don’t always want to stray away from” the engrained intolerance passed down through generations. “But kids, they usually have a more open mind.”

These campers are already fulfilling the goal as described by Judy Chamberlain: “to build peace, one person at a time.”

Contributors: Isaac (7th grade, Milford), Jack (8th grade, Cincinnati), Jocelyn (7th grade, Wilmington), Kai (8th grade, Cincinnati), Katie (7th grade, Wyoming), Lourdes (7th grade, Cincinnati), Noura (8th grade, Cincinnati)

Written by: Emily Combs, US Media Coordinator

DSC_8902

 

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.
IMG-20170720-WA0021

Ready for their meetings with US Congressional Representatives.

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.
IMG-20170720-WA0058

Kids4Peace Youth and Staff met with Senator Bernie Sanders.

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.
IMG-20170720-WA0076

Jordan Goldwarg, Global Institute Director, with youth from Kids4Peace Seattle.

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!

 

 

IMG-20170719-WA0013

Learning from past negotiators for Israeli-Palestinian Peace at USIP.

 

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!
IMG_20170718_124404_1

Kids4Peace Youth met with the Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the US State Department.

Written by Chelsea MacMillan (Interfaith Advisor) and Selina Petschek

 

cute

Two days ago at Kids4Peace VT/NH, we celebrated Interdependence Day. We began the July 4th morning asking the students if there really is such a thing as independence, considering how dependent upon other people we all are just to live our daily lives. To illustrate this concept, our Coordinator and Co-facilitator, Selina, had the kids act out the life cycle of monarch butterflies in which the presence of milkweed is crucial. Without milkweed the monarchs would not survive, no food or place to lay their larvae, and without the monarchs, the milkweed would never be pollinated and would likewise disappear. We followed up by moving into our peace groups to further explore the interdependence that weaves through each of our lives.

 

In each group, kids chose an everyday object to investigate: soda, Nike shoes, and pancakes, and did their best to trace all the materials back to their sources. They quickly got caught in the web of trade, commerce, ecology, humanity, the interconnectedness that we live in and partake in everyday. As one kid put it, “We could be doing this all day!” Each group presented their webs of interdependence and, together, we made lists of all of the people, materials, and earth systems that are required just to make pancakes or shoes! This may have been the first time these kids had really thought about the interconnection of all things, but it was also a great reminder to us adults.

 

This exploration led right into acroyoga and trust exercises with Jeff. The kids got to embody what it means to really let go and trust that their new friends will not let them fall, just like they have to trust that they will be fed and clothed by the systems that support them. The kids also learned what it looks like to give the support in return and will be more mindful of how their choices affect others.

Under Pressure

Kids4Peace —  July 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

Contributors: Ada (8th grade, NH), Deklan (7th grade, NH), and Fiona (Counselor, NY). 

As the rehearsals for the musical dramatic event “Peace Child” are in full swing, the campers and staff of Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire’s first year camp are beginning to feel the challenges of memorizing, staging, and mounting a production. Fiona, a Senior Counselor from New York, NY, offers some perspective on the performers and their progress. Putting up a show in six days with six hour long daily rehearsals has her “nervous about their energy” on the day of the performance, for “it’s going to be a big stretch”. Ada, a rising eighth grader from New Hampshire, echoes Fiona, acknowledging that “it’s a lot of work”.

However, while the work can be stressful and exhausting, it is also just as rewarding. Now the campers are working on scenes and character development, helping them to realize the thematic value of this piece. Fiona believes that “they grasp that it’s something about peace and that it means more than other shows they might have seen or been part of”. That appreciation for the play has many of the campers eager to perform.

One in particular is Deklan, a rising seventh grader from Sunapee, NH. Because Deklan is “never one to get anxious or anything” while onstage, he is finding great excitement in his work. Especially in exploring his character, “Character”, in the play. Understanding his role and how Character connects to the other characters and action of the play is making him “feel more confident that [he] is going to enjoy it and have a really good time”.

deklan acting

Downstage from left to right: Deklan and Mariam

While the play is helping the campers to find meaning and joy for themselves, it is also helping them to connect to others. Ada is finding that the activities they do at camp and rehearsals have helped her to connect “to the [other] kids and enjoy being around almost all of them”. Deklan has also “made friends with kids from K4P through the play”, and has had “fun [meeting] people and [hanging] out”.

But the impending audience incites nerves and excitement. Fiona cannot wait for the kids to have a “really cool experience” with a “whole sea of people all there supporting” the group. And among that sea of people will be familiar faces. Looking forward to “maybe get[ting] to hug them” and maybe “ask[ing] for a picture with them”, Deklan cannot wait to see his family. Surprisingly homesick, this performance is also an opportunity to reconnect to his loved ones and share a beautiful story.

A story that Deklan claims “speaks for itself and … is very persuasive”. Addressing peacemaking and bullying, they hope that they play inspires the audience to go out and lead change in their lives and schools. But do not be alarmed at the portrayal of bullying onstage. Deklan reassures us that “the bullies on stage are just acting”. Don’t let their impeccable acting fool you; the Peace Child “is not hurt, she’s totally okay!” To all planning to witness this event- please sit back, relax, and enjoy the peacemaking.

Contributors: Ana (8th grade, VT), Seth (7th grade, NH), and Sylvia (8th grade, VT)

19554222_1351527071592290_1725262571889797914_n

While Fridays in the United States typically give young and old alike a reason to celebrate in itself, Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire campers learned about the religious significance of this day to both Islam and Judaism. During the early evening before dinner, the campers learned about and witnessed Juma prayer, the Friday mid-day prayer held each week for Muslims. In addition to learning about the physical and social nature of Muslim prayer, campers also learned about the significance of Friday in both the religion and the structure of a week, for Fridays mark the end of the weekend.

After dinner, the campers learned about and witnessed a Shabbat service, marking the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath while at camp (Shabbat Shalom by the way!). In addition to seeing the nature of Jewish prayer, the youth also learned how Shabbat affects people’s lifestyles and the structure of a week, for Fridays mark the first full day of the weekend. The staggered days of rest among the three Abrahamic faiths was a new concept to many. But Sylvia, a rising eighth grader from South Burlington, VT, embraced the knowledge, noting that “each religion has their own day of rest, [and hers] is just on Sunday”.

19511402_1351525544925776_4974490451567317109_n

Sylvia (8th Grade, VT) and Ana (8th Grade, VT)

Ana, also a rising eighth grader from South Burlington, VT, also related this lesson to her own faith tradition as a Christian. She found that it was her belief in the Episcopal Church that “helps [her], [and] leads [her]” by “teach[ing] [her] to welcome and accept other cultures [and religions] even though they are different”. She uses her own faith as a vessel of acceptance and appreciation, even to other faith traditions.

While Ana feels incredibly connected to her own faith, this sensation of connection embedded in the Juma Prayer was significant to Seth, a rising seventh grade from Henniker, NH. While he noted the physical state of connection between shoulders and knees in the different postures used during Muslim prayer, he continued to see beyond the traditions to the universal commonality of being human, for “we are all connected”.

And it is that connection that has inspired Seth to advocate for peace and understanding in his school, standing up for Jewish and Muslim students who “are just like [the Christian students], they just do things a little bit differently”. Although now, Seth feels more hope to “not give up right away”, for even a young peacemaker knows that “it’s easy to get overwhelmed” in the face of injustice and prejudice. But he intends to move forward anyway, for, as Sylvia puts it, “everyone deserves peace and rest”.

19601440_1351525841592413_8577400439751185742_n

Seth (7th Grade, NH)

Contributors: Hussein (7th grade, VT), Judah (7th grade, NH), and Sage (6th grade, NH).

audience

The early bird spreads peace and understanding at Kids4Peace camp, and these campers sure are living as peacemakers, waking up bright and early at 7:00 am yesterday morning. While they may not have bushy tails, the bright eyed campers headed off to the Flying Monkey House Theater for their first full day of rehearsal. And as they say in the theatre, early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!

actingAnd these young professionals were on time as they headed into a six hour rehearsal day, consisting of singing, dancing, and scene work. Working with graduate students, staff, and faculty at Plymouth State University, the campers began the journey of breathing life into their musical dramatic piece, Peace Child. However, even the beginning stages of the creative process challenge young performers to reach outside of their comfort zones.

Dance in particular proved demanding, for dancing in front of others can be quite vulnerable. Judah, a rising seventh grader from Hopkinson, NH, “really hates dancing in public”, but nonetheless “had to dance in front of people”. And with that positive attitude and willingness, Judah found that after awhile, “it was even fun!” Sage, a rising sixth grader from Loconia, NH, was continually pushed out of her comfort zone today as singing and dancing is already uncomfortable. And when the campers had to improvise dance themselves, it “was an extra push”, for she “did not feel comfortable making up things on stage with just loose instructions”. Even on the outskirts outside of her comfort zone, Sage was able to appreciate the situation as something that, while uncomfortable, is in fact just “new”.

Being in the theater can be intimidating in itself. Hussein, a rising seventh grader from Winooski, VT, was “really shy” and even “scared” when they arrived at the Flying Monkey House Theater. But Hussein found that “when [he] tried to do the things [the instructors] showed [them], [he] wasn’t as shy anymore, and it was fun to be an actor!” That positivity flooded the day as the campers experienced memorable moments together: hearing the unique score that was composed intentionally for them, learning each of their specific roles within the group, and singing the opening song together.

Both Judah and Hussein enjoyed singing the opening song, or as Hussein calls it, the Group Singing 2“special music”. After the young campers put their all into singing that song together, Judah assesses that it was “definitely a memorable moment”, for “it was a team effort”. The new community they formed together during the first day was further strengthened as they became something even more powerful, an ensemble.

 

Contributors: Arbai (9th grade, Winooski, VT), Emma (7th grade, Andover, NH), Sherihan, (6th grade, Winooski, VT)

Water bottles were decorated and the ice was broken as the camp season was officially kicked off yesterday at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Staff members welcomed fourteen young campers as they entered into their first Kids4Peace camp experience. After name tags had been made and suitcases were unpacked, the staff introduced themselves, and the campers played some get-to-know-you games. Working up quite the appetite, all gathered in the dining hall for dinner. But of course, no meal is complete without a blessing led by a camper.

 

19437509_1349217565156574_413859909257907386_nThe newfound energy from dinner fueled the following discussion revolving the group’s values and expectations while at camp. As campers and staff voiced their hopes and ideals, a Community Agreement was composed that will serve as the group’s foundation while at camp. While the group’s expectations of each other are captured in the Community Agreement, each of the campers had their own pool of hopes and prospects for the next eleven days at Kids4Peace.

 

19554753_1349216735156657_6222761309396805353_n

Sherihan, 6th grade, VT

Arbai, a rising ninth grader from Winooski, Vermont, has high hopes to learn a great deal while at camp. She even aspires to pick up “more English”. The desire to learn is also felt by Sherihan, a rising sixth grader also from Winooski, Vermont, who wants to know “how other people practice their religions”. But sleep away camp with a group of strangers can be intimidating, for campers must “[be] away from family” (Arbai). Not to mention the first day jitters, as campers are “talking and laughing with people [they] don’t know yet” (Sherihan).

19554493_1349218241823173_1612218451267862643_n

Emma, 7th grade, NH

Emma, a rising seventh grader from Andover, New Hampshire, on the other hand is purely “really excited for everything”, hoping to “meet new friends”, “learn about religion”, and “know what it’s like” to be away from home overnight. Whether one is full of unbridled hope, consumed by worry, or anything in between, all campers got the opportunity to voice their hopes and fears and listen to others.

 

The day was closed, accepting all of these hopes and fears, expectations and worries. The campers, now a community, went to bed, marking a successful first day of camp.