Archives For kids4peace seattle

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!

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.

by Sarah Rose, K4P Seattle Counselor

Kids4Peace Seattle’s overnight last weekend was one for the books! It was filled with laughter, fun, and bonding between the first and second year participants. We watched the Disney/Pixar movie Inside Out, and then tried to connect the ideas presented with the mission of Kids4Peace. We examined the importance of accepting everyone, recognizing what individuals can contribute and that everyone has something valuable to offer to society in some way. We also discussed the importance of understanding our emotions. Our dialogue leader, Pam, asked us to share a time we felt sad but did not feel we could reveal it. One of the second year participants, Maya, noted that, she “learned that there are different perspectives on each side. Someone isn’t being mean just because they want to be mean, there’s always something else going on that causes them to act out that way. Listening and understanding where they are coming from is key to accepting them.”

The issue of popularity in school and its impacts came up and definitely struck a chord for all of the participants. Establishing a safe place for everyone to be open allowed for a meaningful and eye-opening experience for all. One of the first-year participants, David, explained that he “liked how we talked about popularity and shared our real feelings. We weren’t holding anything back. It helped me understand that we all have different situations but we can still connect.”

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The group hard at work at the Jewish Family Service food bank.

 

Emilio, another first-year participant, came to similar conclusions stating, “I really liked the discussion about popularity, because we never talked about that stuff before so it was nice to hear other people are experiencing the same things. I also really liked our discussion this morning about connecting more with each other. I feel like now the 7th graders are talking more with the 8th graders so I feel more comfortable talking with them.”

As I sat listening to the discussion, I became even more amazed and inspired by the participants. To be able to have such an open and mature conversation and share such insightful thoughts was truly an unforgettable experience. By allowing themselves to be vulnerable and talk about a tough and very personal matter, they become an even stronger and more connected group. In Seattle, we would refer to this as the “magic” of Kids4Peace.

Another magical experience of the weekend happened when we had Hebrew and Arabic lessons. Two of Seattle’s Program Team members, Tamar and Rula, taught us conversational phrases along with some food words (such as chicken, cheese, and bread). On the one hand, this was quite fun for the kids, but on the other hand it was very frustrating. This exercise helped the kids understand what it must have been like for their friends from Jerusalem to come to camp and not know a lot of English. Beginning to understand the difficulty of learning new languages led to a conversation about how to stand in solidarity with people they encounter who do not speak English well.

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The group learns some Arabic and Hebrew phrases with Rula (and baby Malka!) and Tamar.

 

Standing in solidarity with each other, our friends in Jerusalem, and everyone that we encounter has been our theme this year during discussions and activities in meetings. Hearing about the seemingly relentless violence in Jerusalem, where we all have friends living, has been heart-breaking for all of us here in Seattle.  We continue to find hope in the actions of others, not just in Jerusalem but around the world.

The fact that the Kids4Peace Jerusalem family is stronger than ever and continues to have hope that peace is still obtainable, is truly inspiring and amazing. Seattle will continue to stand in solidarity with Jerusalem. Although we could not be physically any farther apart, our faith, love, and connection to our K4P family on the other side of the world is closer than ever.

Above: A short film that Kids4Peace Seattle made for our friends in Jerusalem.

by Dagan, Jerusalem Jewish Advisor, Seattle Camp

“All we need is here…”

This chant (led by our Christian faith advisor Malcolm) has become one of our camp’s many anthems.  I found myself contemplating the meaning of these simple words, and would like to share my thoughts with you on this blog post today.

11844930_511692845647533_3277266647454671294_o Since landing in Seattle last Wednesday, I’ve been experiencing a strong sense of expansion and space. Coming from Israel, a land so dense and over-stressed, I can notice an inner hint of new air, of new opportunities. Must we go so far to renew? We are seeking a process of deep transformation, first within ourselves, and next, hopefully, for the world.

The Washington environment seems to me profoundly abundant; the trees grow so tall, with such grace… Fresh, clean water everywhere…  Vibrant green is the predominant color. Here in the Tracey Levine Center, we have all these beautiful meeting spaces for our activities, meadows for soccer and frisbee…  Here we are enjoying delicious food and comfortable accommodations. All this abundance is, no doubt, a wonderful starting point for the Seattle Kids4Peace camp.

Then add the richness each of us (staff and campers alike) brings, in our bodies, minds and souls. Together we form a unique creation, which expands and evolves each day. As camp enters its 5th day, it seems that our common quest, for peace, is to be reached through the non-conventional means of truth, the human heart, and the faith that unites us as living beings.

Peacemakers! We who choose to see, to keep our hearts open, to not accept the “truths” of the conflict. We choose to remain sensitive in the midst of hardening. We are peacemakers! Boldly saying, “No” to the violence. We who wish to live together. To believe peace in our turbulent land is possible. We resist, by building an alternative of love…

Yet, each of us is bound, by his own borders of perception… So at the Kids4Peace camp we create safe spaces, where we can study and question ourselves and others. As we explore ourselves, so we begin to meet the other more profoundly, more truthfully; without fear. I know myself, I trust myself, and therefore I am willing to listen to you and willingly accept you. I am not  afraid that your story will take my place. You are not my enemy. Hey, you can even be my new best friend!

We collect tools of the heart to help us on our journey to peace. We do this in community, each sharing his perspective and knowledge. In our community, words such as “gentleness”, “feelings”, “compassion” and “trust” do not denote weakness – on the contrary,  they are a sign of inner-power. 11875036_511685965648221_5621357679019118551_oThe true power of the future is the quality of inner-wisdom. And when this rippling power emerges in more and more people, peace will find its way back to our land.

Indeed, all we need is here. We live in such abundance; there is no need for violence. We have all the knowledge and heart we need. Let us have courage to celebrate our differences, and come together to realize a greater union.

(And thank you to Pam Orbach for help editing this post!)

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