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The first full day at the Global Institute was an exciting and busy one. Starting the day at the Church of Epiphany, participants were put into groups, each based on a famous activist, and discussed their thoughts and emotions with Kids4Peace Staff. The staff asked questions such as “what do you need to feel supported?” and “when you hear the word ‘leadership’, how does that make you feel?”. Participants had no issue opening up to one another, some sharing that they were at first nervous about going to Washington, D.C. for the Global Institute. They were anxious about making friends and being around people they didn’t know. However, they were able to realize the value of the experience and overcame that anxiety.

Dina and Devorah are a perfect example of how easily friendships were made in the first day of the program. When describing why she decided to join the Global Institute, Dina said that she “grew up in a small town where not a lot of people know about my religion. The Global Institute is a great opportunity to talk to people about it.”

She added that “having this opportunity at our age is amazing; it’s a new generation and change starts with us.” Devorah, on the other hand, explained how she grew up in a very diverse part of Israel. “Kids4Peace has always been a part of my household, but I realize not everyone has opportunities like this”. While listening to Scott Rechler from LearnServe international speak to them about social entrepreneurship, groups of participants were told to think of something that makes them mad, then create a solution to the issue that bothers the entire group the most. They presented their ideas through skits to the rest of the Global Institute.

Next, the participants took a quick trip on the metro to the U.S Department of State. For many, this was their first time riding the D.C. metro. At the State Department, participants were able to listen to Shaun Casey, U.S. Special representative for Religion and Global Affairs, Ira Forman, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and Arsalan Suleman, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, discuss their jobs and how they cared about issues relating to the participants. Participants were then able to ask questions talk about Kids4Peace. Dina later described the visit to the State Department as “an amazing opportunity to hear everyone’s opinions”, while Devorah said that the Officials were “really respecting of and interested in what we had to say”.

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Next, the group walked to meet with officials from USAID. When Dave Harden entered the room, participants were filled with joy to see a familiar face; many had seen him recently at an Iftar in Jerusalem. When Harden asked the participants how they are going to change the world, many were eager to answer. Describing the experience, Devorah said, “I learned that a lot of people have different ideas on how to make change, and the other participants are very passionate.” Dina agreed and said that “people kept adding onto one another, and everyone’s ideas made each other’s better.”

Harden wrapped up the meeting by telling the Global Institute that they are very powerful, as proven by how many important people want to meet them, and that they should share their ideas with the officials they meet because they are very influential.

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After meeting with USAID, the Global Institute walked back to the Church of Epiphany to eat dinner with New Story Leadership. They were able to have discussions with a group of Israeli and Palestinian activists just 10-years older than themselves. This group was visiting the US in order to share their stories and gain skills to make change. When describing the day Dina said that “everyone was very welcoming, and everyone shares the same goal”. Although the participants are tired after a long and exciting day, they remain optimistic for the days ahead.

Hi, I’m Noah, the new intern at the K4P DC office. Before encountering K4P I had previously attended a talk between an Israeli man and a Palestinian man at which I was first exposed to new perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I later encountered K4P at a speaker event in a Busboys and Poet’s restaurant. It was there that I really took an interest in K4P as well as their mission and wondered how I could get involved. Over the course of high school, I had become very interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the misconceptions many have about it. This was only amplified later when I was admitted into a school program that allowed me to begin college early, therefore exposing me to a college environment where the Israel-Palestinian conflict is intensely discussed. Since my initial interest in the organization, I have attended a series of classes that allowed me to further understand both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives. I really look forward to spending the summer with K4P and helping out however I can.

Blog Post for Vermont/New Hampshire Chapter, by Nancy Stone. Photos by Nancy Stone

Our Spring over-night retreat took place April 16-17 at sisters Lola and Zelda’s spacious home in New Hampshire with 15 alumni and adults attending.  Our first activity was lessons in Arabic. Then, divided into two groups, we were told to create skits using only Arabic, adding new vocabulary as needed.  One teen remarked, “That wasn’t super hard!”  Someone else commented, “It felt good to be a little part of your culture.”  Shukran, Abeer and Lana.

The unusually warm evening found us walking through a covered bridge leading to a pizza place.  After supper on the deck beside the Contoocook River, we returned home for popcorn and the animated movie “Inside Out”, which is a fun but richly layered exploration of personality, memory and emotions. Our follow-up discussions asked: Which emotions do you feel most often?  What are your core memories?  Which emotions do you think our society values over others?  The adult staff participated by drawing a map of their own “islands of personality.”

After breakfast the next day, we lined up single-file for a silent meditation walk down the quiet street, with a focus on our breath and steps rather than the environment.  This led to sharing time about how to use this skill to calm and focus in daily life.

Art teachers Jill and Nancy then taught everyone how to make their own musical flutes called, ocarina, from kits ordered on-line.  The pre-cut wooden sections were like a puzzle needing to be carefully pieced and glued together; cooperation was often sought from a neighboring crafter.  Once the four-hole instruments were completed, everyone gathered outside to practice songs.  The activity became a metaphor for the peace-making process that leads to making beautiful music together.

Meet Luke!

shoshanak4p —  February 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

My name is Luke Froude and I am from New York State. I recently graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a degree in Political Science. When I was eleven years old I was introduced to a peace education organization called CISV. For the past twelve years I have been involved with children from around the world to promote dialogue and friendship. Having participated in programs similar to Kids4Peace, I personally know how life-changing these experiences can be, which is why I couldn’t be happier to be a part of K4P! My time here will be spent reaching out to people who have participated in Kids4Peace and helping share their experiences on our blog. I look froward to mLuke Froudeeeting more people who have been impacted by their time with Kids4Peace and telling their stories!

My name is Emma Yingst, and I have recently begun an internship with Kids4Peace! I am a freshman at American University, majoring in International Relations (with a focus in the Middle East and South Asia) and minoring in Print Journalism. I grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and have always had an avid interest in the world outside of my hometown bubble. This led me to travel abroad with a group of students to BEmma Yingstali, Indonesia, where I got my first taste of volunteering abroad as well as being on my own in a foreign country. These experiences have led me to my major and to Kids4Peace. I heard about an event that Kids4Peace was hosting at Busboys and Poets, and for one of my classes, I had to go to one event outside of the college that deals with International Relations. I attended “Is Peace Still Possible? Q&A with Jerusalem’s Peace Activists”. I was enthralled at the event, hearing the different speakers and their stories, and I knew that I wanted to be involved in this organization in any way, shape, or form! At the talk, I heard that by people’s limited experiences with each other, they tended to form the “one-story” perspective; that is, only seeing one side of a multi-faceted person or people. To facilitate understanding, and essentially peace, I love the idea of bringing people together of different ethnicity, religions, and cultures, which Kids4Peace aims to do. While interning, I hope to broaden my knowledge of Israel-Palestine relations, as well as all that Kids4Peace does abroad and at home. I am excited for the work that I will be doing (social media/database) and am thrilled to be a part of the Kids4Peace team!

by Rachel, American Christian Faith Adviser, North Carolina

IMG_5779After rock climbing this morning and a break for lunch, the 6th graders went to their daily Discovery session. The first activity involved everyone writing their names on mirrors. Then the campers got to choose someone else’s mirror and look at their reflections together through the shared mirrors. Finally, they got the place their mirrors someplace on a world map that is meaningful to them.

Maria placed hers on Canada because she would like to visit family there. Ariel placed his on Japan because he wants to practice the Japanese he’s been studying. Maya put hers on Thailand because she would like to visit there someday. We learned a little more about each other based on where each person placed their mirror.

The next activity was to trace over the old city of Jerusalem and the existing four quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Each camper got to reimagine what the city layout would be if they could design it.

Haya drew her picture with five sections of the city. Haya said, “I made 5 parts and in the middle we can all share a place together.”

Many of the campers intentionally included a place in their city design where everyone could be together. For some it engulfed the whole city and for others they added a “peace quarter” for that purpose.

After discovery the group got to learn outdoor survival skills from the Camp Bob staff before a Faith Advising session led by Adli, Jerusalem Muslim Faith Adviser and Yair, Jerusalem Jewish Faith Adviser. The kids had so much fun playing games to get to know each other better. Working off of the mirror theme, one activity involved sitting across from partners and mirroring their actions. We talked about how difficult it can be to do exactly what someone else is doing, but also how fun it is to see things in a different way.IMG_5799

After dinner, we joined the LEAP group for a talent show. We had a few performances from both the 6th grade and LEAP as well as all of the counselors and the LEAP Faith Advisers. From music to cultural dances and skits, it was the perfect way to end the day together.

by Ariel (Jewish participant) and Yasser (Christian participant), Jerusalem

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We woke up in the morning in a pleasant mood with many expectations and hopes for the day. We went to eat breakfast that was made by Dorothy. She prepared us some boiled eggs, fresh fruit salad and cereals. After eating a fabulous breakfast, we went to get dressed for the Mt. Bromley Adventure Park and shopping at Target.

Of course, Fr. Nicholas explained the rules and appropriate behavior while at the park. We then got on two buses and headed to the adventure park. When we arrived at the park, we were guided through a tutorial on how to use the obstacles safely. We climbed up the hill to start the activity; each one of the group members found his or her starting route on the ropes course. 

We had a lot of fun, but with the fun comes the need for strength and courage, we did almost all the tracks of every difficulty level; there was a lot of encouragement between the campers. We gained a lot of experience in teamwork.

After a lot of sweating and hard work, we finished the course and ran down the hill to eat bagged lunches that Jack and Christina had made for us in the morning. We finished eating and boarded the bus for Target to go shopping. We arrived at Target and gathered outside of the building to set a meeting time and shopping rules. Almost everyone got what he or she wanted. 11705773_917877374935554_4232441675164510934_o

When we arrived back at Acer Farm, we ate Dorothy’s handmade, lovely lasagna and some fresh salad. After dinner, Sister Heidi Truax called us together to practice our Civil Rights Era social justice skits that we will preform on Sunday at the Brattleboro Common. Overall, we had a lot of fun working together as a team and not leaving anyone behind and overcoming our fears. This was meaningful for the spirit of our group!

by David, Jewish participant, Jerusalem

Jiries woke me up this morning at 7 AM, so I decided I might as well go and take a morning shower to wake me up instead of lying bleary-eyed in bed. When I got back to the yurt (Tent) I was already wide-awake most of the boys were up and about, preparing for breakfast.

11703415_917495861640372_8423428611353324971_o After breakfast, we all went to the backyard where we played a human-sized version of “Mastermind” and that was pretty fun, even though sadly we only had enough time for a single good round. Then Edward Turner, the founder of an international law organization called Lawyers Without Borders came and taught us about the Rule of Law.

Mr. Turner explained to us how do our justice systems function and what is the Rule of Law and that was very interesting. He spoke well and he brought up questions that were very controversial, which made us think about and learn new things from each other. Later on we had some free time, then we all prayed together and had an awesome lunch (Whoohoo!), which for me was mainly comprised of hot dogs and salad. Afterwards, we had a Drama for Social Change session with Court. In that session we defined all the words that conflicts mean to us and talked about conflict for a while, and then we did some skits, sort of like the ones we did yesterday just more dramatic and less of the straight-up funny type.11754539_917495134973778_719835407030994304_o

Later, we had our fifth leadership session in which we talked more about violence and were divided randomly into three groups: Israel, Palestine and the U.S., and we had to use an iceberg model to display examples of direct, cultural, and structural violence we could identify and then present them to the other two teams. That was really interesting because I was in a group with two Israelis (including myself) and three Palestinians, and it showed me things that I didn’t think about before (which usually happens when we speak about Israel and Palestine).

After the leadership sessions, most of the campers went horseback riding and surprisingly only the Jews went swimming, so we jumped on the opportunity and did a “Mikve” with our guest Gordon. A Mikve is a Jewish tradition of getting cleaned by dipping in the water several times quickly (We did it in our own version of just jumping up and down and screaming “MIKVE!”, not the real one).11782481_917496058307019_8715352717662375565_o

And then came the highlight of the day: we were separated to three groups and each of the groups was sent to a different non-JPB-K4P family, who lives in the area, and we dined with them and learned about their lives. I went with Tom and Connie and their two sons Sam and Peter (who are both 20 years old) and they served us a delicious spicy chicken dinner and taught us about Brattleboro. They then took us with them for a 30-minute walk in Brattleboro which I really enjoyed. I was very happy that local families support JPB and K4P, and that they are so generous with people they never met before to support the cause of Peace.”