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Speech given by Jacob, a 10th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

CLICK HERE to read the first part of this story, as told by Jacob’s friend Risa (another Kids4Peace Seattle youth participant).

Hello, my name is Jacob, and this will be my third summer with Kids4Peace. Risa and I represent just one part of a global interfaith organization. Kids4Peace is a group of interfaith youth with chapters in Jerusalem, France, and across the US. Here in Seattle, about 25 participants regularly attend monthly meetings. Kids4Peace also hosts camps during the summer. At all of these programs we learn about social issues, leadership skills, as well as the experiences of others through dialogue, thought-provoking activities and story sharing. We also host community workshops throughout the year, reaching hundreds of youth.

Like Risa said, we’ve known each other for a while: We work as assistant teachers at our synagogue together and ride the same bus to school. About three and a half years ago she told me that Kids4Peace was having an open house, and invited me to come.

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Jacob and other K4P youth planning their activism work around the I-940 De-Escalate Campaign.

I remember being very tentative. This was a new group that I barely knew anything about. But I was also a little curious so, I decided, why not? I’m a kid. I like peace, and it’ll only be a single meeting for a few hours. Three and half years later, Kids4Peace is an integral part of my life, and my identity.

Upon arriving to my first Kids4Peace meeting, I timidly slipped into the meeting room, feeling confused about how to act because everyone seemed busy chatting with each other and preparing snacks.

Risa was the only person I knew. Immediately though, someone strode right over and welcomed me, saying hi, and involving me in a conversation they were having about their week at school. I have never more quickly felt connected with a group of people. A little bit into the meeting, I remember dividing up into partners for a group activity. I was nervous I was going to be left alone without one, because no-one knew me, but to my relief, someone walked straight up to me and invited me to join them.

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It is the kindness that my kids4peace friends showed to me at my first meeting that we are trying to spread in our community. From standing outside MAPS, a local mosque, in support when their sign was smashed by a vandal, to having tough conversations about the experiences of immigrants, we support each other in understanding and solving issues that our community faces.

Our stories are just two of many, so with the same open arms that welcomed me to Kids4Peace, we would like to welcome all of you, and invite you into our Kids4Peace community.

During the event, when Risa and Jacob told their stories, they posed these questions to the audience:

We would like to ask all of you to take some time right now to reflect on some of your personal experiences. We are going to ask you to think about three things, and we would like you to take a second just to think about each thing in your mind.

We invite you to think about…

  • …a time when you were able to use knowledge you took from your community and applied it to something you felt passionate about.
  • …a time when you didn’t feel welcomed and accepted within your community
  • …a time when you were with people that encouraged and empowered you to be your best.

We invite you to reflect on these questions in the week to come, and don’t forget to check back for more stories next week!

Speech given by Risa, a 9th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

Kids4Peace is a youth group where we have the opportunity to learn about other perspectives and participate in interfaith programs. One of my favorite parts of Kids4Peace is how we are able to connect our learning to make a difference in the world around us.

Specifically, one rainy Seattle evening during our monthly meeting, we had the opportunity to cook and serve food at Tent City. For those of you that don’t know, Tent City is a community of homeless women and men who live together, sleeping in tents and joining together for meals. At first, I didn’t think of it as a big deal. I mean, we were just cooking food for people, right? When we arrived at Tent City with our huge trays of chili and cornbread, I realized how much of an influence we had on people’s lives.

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Kids4Peace youth after their time at Tent City in Seattle.

 

Earlier in the day, we had learned about how a small action can make a huge impact. We didn’t just set the food up for them and leave, we stayed and ate dinner and talked to many people we probably wouldn’t have talked to in any other situation. Lots of us realized we had the same likes and dislikes, and that we weren’t all that different after all. It was then I came to the understanding of how our cooking had not only affected their lives, but ours also.

I’ve been with Kids4Peace since sixth grade, and the relationships I’ve made with people and the experiences I have been a part of have all shaped my life today. During my time in Kids4Peace, I have been asked to think about and reflect on many things. Ever since I stepped into my first meeting, Kids4Peace is a place I’ve felt accepted and empowered to be my best. The friends I have made in Kids4Peace have stayed with me throughout middle school and now into high school.

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I’ve known my friend Jacob since we were kids, and we’ve gotten even closer as we grew up. Wanting to share my Kids4Peace experience with Jacob, I invited him to a Kids4Peace community day, where friends and family could come and check out our organization…

Check back on the blog next week to hear Jacob’s part of the story!

 

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Jacob and Risa speaking together at the 2018 Inspiring Hope event in Seattle.

 

By: Jordan Goldwarg, Kids4Peace Seattle Chapter Director

Remarks from Inspiring Hope, Our Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit our Kids4Peace chapter in Lyon, France, and while I was there, someone asked me what it is like to be living in the United States right now, a time of so much unrest and turbulence. I thought about it for a moment, and then I replied, “It’s an awful time to be living in the United States right now. And it is also an amazing time to be living in the United States right now.”

He looked at me a little bit puzzled, and I think this was understandable. I am sure that many of you in this room tonight can understand what I meant when I said that it is an awful time. Every day brings a fresh assault on the rights, equality, and dignity of just about anyone who is considered to be different or the other. And it’s important for me to acknowledge, as a cis white man, that I have only recently begun to understand the magnitude of the awfulness that so many black, brown, trans, Native, Latino, immigrant, and disabled people, not to mention all women, have been living with for so long.

The discrimination and attacks that people experience on a daily basis is nothing new, but it has become so much more visible over the last two years to those of us born with privilege. And this is actually why it is also an amazing time to be living in the United States right now. Every single day, we wake up, and we are presented with abundant opportunities to make a positive change in our communities and in the world. Let me give three quick examples.

Do you care about racism? If so, you can get involved with the No New Youth Jail campaign here in Seattle, helping to end the school-to-prison pipeline and the disproportionate incarceration of so many kids of colour.

Do you care about Islamophobia? If so, almost every week, there are mosques and other community groups hosting open houses and potluck meals to get to know each other.

Do you care about refugees? If so, you can help sponsor a family while also lobbying our elected officials to bring more refugees into the country. This is especially urgent, since I was shocked to learn last week that so far this year, a total of 11 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the US.

Of course, as has always been the case, if we want to make the world a better place, we should follow the lead of our youth. Who can ignore the power of Emma Gonzalez, Naomi Wadler, and so many other kids who have mobilized a movement that is creating change that adults have been incapable of achieving for a generation? Who would have thought that the state of Florida, under a Republican governor and a Republican legislature, would pass gun control laws?

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Naomi Wadler (left) and Emma Gonzalez (right) speaking at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24th.

And in Kids4Peace, we are so proud of our youth who are part of this growing wave of young activists, helping to shape society in more peaceful, compassionate, empathetic ways. You have already heard from a number of our kids, and I’m sure you’re as impressed by them as we are, but I want to highlight just three specific ways that our youth are making an impact.

First, last fall, our 10th graders, who had recently returned from our Global Institute leadership program in Washington, DC, decided to join the I-940 De-Escalate Washington campaign. If you’re unfamiliar with this campaign, it was an initiative to the state legislature to require police in our state to receive conflict de-escalation training while also making it easier to hold police accountable when there has been excessive use of force. This initiative was designed to help keep all of our communities safer, recognizing all the while that communities of colour are disproportionately affected by police
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Our youth spent the fall collecting signatures for the initiative, while also helping to educate others through conversations and spreading the word through social media. Lia, one of our 10th graders who worked on the campaign, and who you will hear from later tonight, said, “As 10th graders, even though we still can’t even vote, we think it is very important for us to be aware of social justice and how police brutality and injustice in all forms is something that affects us. We in Kids4Peace feel compelled to fix things that are broken in our society.” And the work of our kids paid off: the state legislature passed I-940 during the closing days of its session last month, making it the law of the land.

My second example comes from our Jerusalem chapter. In the city of Jerusalem, despite the fact that about 1⁄3 of the population speaks Arabic as their first language, when films are shown in cinemas, they only contain Hebrew subtitles. Our high-school youth are working on a campaign with the municipality of Jerusalem and the cinemas to add Arabic subtitles to films. While this might seem like a small change, it would have a huge impact on creating more visibility for the Palestinian population, and more importantly, it would make cinemas a shared space, where Israelis and Palestinians can come together for common experiences, something that is incredibly rare in a very segregated city.

And while we love to see this kind of large-scale activism, we also value the changes that our kids make in their communities every day. At the risk of embarrassing Jacob, whom you heard from a few minutes ago, I want to say a word about his robotics team at Issaquah High. For over a year, the team had been experiencing rising tension between two groups that had different ideas about how the team should operate. Jacob, being the leader that he is, turned to skills honed in Kids4Peace to try to solve the problem. He offered to lead a dialogue session for nearly 30 team members with the goal of creating a community agreement that would help to establish norms for how team members interact with each other. The dialogue session was a success: Jacob created a safe environment in which everyone was able to express themselves and agree to a common set of values for the team, something that has really shifted the group dynamic this year. And in fact, the session was so successful that Jacob was asked to lead a similar session for other robotics teams in the region. Best of all, all of the kids in our core leadership program are trained to lead workshops like this.

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Jacob facilitating a conversation with a small group of students.

 

These three examples give you just a taste of the new emphasis in Kids4Peace on supporting our youth to take public action and stand up for the values they believe in. Kids4Peace has always been about engaging in dialogue with people who are different, and that is still a big part of what we do. But we are following the lead of our youth, who have been telling us that dialogue alone is not enough; it must also be paired with action.
And we are working to develop new ways to engage even more youth in our work. This year, thanks to a grant from the Seattle Foundation, we have launched a series of youth advocacy workshops, run in partnership with a broad range of other organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and 21 Progress. The poem you just heard by Sumeya was written at our MLK Day workshop combating Islamophobia and Antisemitism. And the final workshop, with a focus on supporting and elevating immigrant and refugee voices, is just around the corner on May 6.

We have also launched our new congregational partnership program, in which a number of local congregations are using Kids4Peace curriculum in their religious schools and are coming together for shared experiences like visits to other houses of worship and potluck dinners.

Now, it’s not quite time to take out your wallets, but I do want to say just one quick word about money before I wrap up. We have set an ambitious goal tonight to raise $50,000. That is about a 40% increase from the $35,000 that we raised at this event last year. We have set this ambitious target because, by the end of this year, we want to be able to hire a community organizer who can help us include even more communities in our work, including those communities most impacted by current government policies. And thanks to some visionary leadership from four of our loyal supporters, we have already raised $15,000 toward our goal tonight. This group really wants to see us get to $50,000, and I know that if we come together as a community, we can help each other out to get this done.

If we’re successful, it will allow us to strengthen our new initiatives, reach more communities, and ensure that even more youth can exercise the leadership skills that are innately within them. Of course, we can’t do any of this without the support of our community, which is at the heart of everything we do in Kids4Peace

To conclude, I want to ask all of you a question. Like almost all of our youth, I have become absolutely obsessed with the musical, Hamilton, over the past couple of years. One of my favourite moments in the show comes when Alexander Hamilton, after spending months as George Washington’s secretary, is finally given command of troops in the Revolutionary War. Maybe one reason this play has resonated with so many people is that, like our present moment, the Revolutionary period was both an awful time and an amazing time to be living here. The ravages of war were perhaps made just a little easier to bear by the hope and the possibility that came from creating something completely new, as imperfect as that new creation ended up being.

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When Washington gives Hamilton his command, he reminds him of the power and the responsibility of the position by saying, “History has its eyes on you.” That line always sticks with me: “History has its eyes on you.” And it sticks with me because in our present moment, when we can push back against the awfulness by seizing the amazing opportunities we have been given, I know that history has its eyes on us. And the question that our youth are asking themselves and the question they are asking you is, “What are we going to do with this moment we’ve been given?” I think we should start by following the lead of our youth.

On January 14th, 80 youth from the greater Seattle area gathered for a workshop called “Make Your Voice Heard”.  It was the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, drawing inspiration from King to empower youth to speak up about issues they care about.

The first part of the event was an opportunity for participants to hear from three different speakers. Max Patashnik who is the Government Affairs and Community Relations Senior Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle did a presentation on Judaism and Antisemitism. Jasmin Samy is the Civil Rights Director at CAIR-Washington State and she did a presentation on Islam and Islamophobia. Finally, Essam Muhammad who is a local Spoken Word Artist and Poet, and is active in the South Seattle community, performed a spoken word piece for all in attendance. This was a way to get the participants thinking about issues in the world and lead them into their breakout session. As participant Maryam said, “We may not realize it but discrimination and hate happens all around us”.

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In the second part of the workshop, youth had the opportunity to participate in one of four breakout sessions. The sessions were News Media, Talking About Issues You Care About, Film, and Spoken Word. Each session gave the youth a different perspective on voicing their opinions and speaking up for what they believe in. The tools that they were given could help them speak up against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other issues they care about.

We heard from two participants of the Spoken Word breakout session, and they were certainly inspired. “Poetry is a way to express yourself, and it seems like something I can do after school” said Maeve. Elizabeth said “I liked the free writing, and I want to tell my friends about this”.

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Throughout the event, participants met back at their table groups to discuss what they were finding. They talked about what this experience meant to them, Nathan said “Through the learning, I feel empowered”. To him, this event was not only about speaking up, it was about learning about other people’s view of the world. Habiba said “We should all use our voice because it is a privilege, we should use it before it’s taken away. We need to use it for ourselves, and those who don’t have a voice”. Going along with speaking up for others, Mariam said “In the world we tend to only stand up for ourselves and our friends, but we should stand up for everyone”.

To finish off the workshop, we had participants further their call to action by writing down what they want to use their voice for. It was a way to remind participants that this workshop gave them tools, but they are the real voice of change in their communities.

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Click here to find lots more photos from our event in our Facebook Album!

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, youth in Seattle and Cincinnati gathered with their communities for an afternoon of learning and friendship. Here is just a little taste of what the day held for everyone!

In Seattle…

Our October meeting was busy! Chances are we all left feeling a little overwhelmed, but in the best possible way. The school year is shaping up to be full of continued learning, advocacy work, planning and running workshops for other youth in the community, diving deeper into case studies of conflict, critically examining current events, and so much more!

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Some highlights:

Our 10th graders, fresh from spending part of their summer in Washington DC, are taking on some local advocacy work with the De-Escalate Washington Campaign.

Our 9th graders are spending the year preparing for their trip to Washington DC next summer. They will be continuing to hone their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of advocacy. We started out their preparation with a crash course in the structure of the United States Government! The 9th graders will also be working together to plan and implement a workshop for younger youth later in the year, a workshop that will share some of the core messages of our work in Kids4Peace!

Our middle school students began the year critically examining some stories of conflict that we find in the sacred scripture of our religious traditions. This began their journey of exploring conflicts from around the world in preparation for heading to International Camp next summer with youth from both the United States and Jerusalem.

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Finally, we all worked together to begin planning our upcoming holiday celebrations – a time when our whole community can come together and share about our personal family traditions and the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Our youth were excited to serve as party planners for this event and we can’t wait to celebrate together at our first event on November 4th!

In Cincinnati…

What do eight campers, twelve staff members, 40 plants, and one arching tree all have in common? Kids4Peace, of course! The Cincinnati chapter gathered on Sunday for a tree planting ceremony in Cincinnati’s historic cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery. Having purchased a ‘peace plot’ earlier this year, participants were able to plant some seeds and saplings in the ground, leaving a remnant of their work and love for K4P.

After two months of being apart, the community came together with families and staff to celebrate the season of fall. It was a gorgeous day for planting. With running and jumping embraces youth greeted old friends who they had not seen since August. Shouts and laughter were exchanged over bags of chips and trowels. Hands and knees were strained, digging and planting in the soft ground. A lovely time was had.

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After the participants finished planting—dandelions, roses, sunflowers and one large tree—we gathered together for a tree-planting service to make the day more sacred. Bible verses, poetry, and prayers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were shared and chanted. Songs were sung; and cheers were shouted.

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The day was wrapped up with a historical tour of the cemetery. The campers got an up close look at some of the monuments and mausoleums. Some even got close to the swans and snails that lined the lakes and ponds’ surfaces. It was a day of becoming close with another and with nature. Our community remains strong, as we continue to grow together from the same root. What an exciting day it was!

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The Cincinnati chapter will get together again in just two weeks on November 10th to worship with the Islamic Center in Westchester, Ohio.

For more photos from these events see the Seattle or Cincinnati Facebook page!

Posted by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

–Tallulah, 10th Grade

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“Peace is the bridge between anger and love.”

–Alex, 9th Grade

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“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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

 

 

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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!
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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

 

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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.