Archives For People

K4P VFC Conference

This past month, Kids4Peace youth from Vermont and New Hampshire came together in Burlington, VT to attend the Voices for Change Youth Conference and the Vermont Peace Conference.

At Voices for Change, our youth were inspired by renowned Muslim slam poet Amir Sulaiman. They also networked with other youth from the area and engaged with a youth-lead panel on diversity and inclusion.
K4P Prep
The next day at the Vermont Peace Conference, Kids4Peace listened in on keynote speaker, Beata Tsosie-Peña, as she talked about her experience fighting for human rights in New Mexico. Our youth then presented their own workshop, sharing their life-changing stories in Kids4Peace. Regional director, Jeff Mandell, lead the group in an activity to build awareness of how we show up in conflict: including new strategies to participate in conflict.

 

K4P Deklan Sound Booth
Kids4Peace youth also attended a workshop titled: #MeToo and Global Feminism, led by their curiosity to move toward full equality for women. Meanwhile 2017 camper, Deklan, recorded a radio spot in New Hampshire to get the word out about our upcoming camp this June.

The weekend provided for inspiring experiences that allowed Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire to represent K4P in a larger movement. In one youth’s words, “it was so incredible to continue to learn from old friends and get new ideas from new people. I was so happy to hear that people were inspired by us and what we stood for!”
K4P at Ben&Jerry's
Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire finished off their energizing weekend on a sweet note, with a visit to the Church Street Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop.

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.

Jacob

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.

Risa

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.

 

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.

 

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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).

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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.

 

by Jordan Goldwarg, Northwest Regional Director

On Sunday, May 8, Kids4Peace Seattle held its first joint activity with students at Noor Academy, the Sunday school of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound. Over the course of three hours, our youth began the process of getting to know each other through a number of activities. There were icebreakers and teambuilding activities, such as having to navigate a human obstacle-course while blindfolded.

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Youth navigating the human obstacle-course

 

We also explored each of our three religions through a game of Interfaith Bingo. Holding a bingo card that contained images and words from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, youth needed to find out the significance of each item by asking other youth to share their knowledge.

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Working on Interfaith Bingo boards

 

Finally, we engaged in small-group dialogue on a variety of topics. In my group, there happened to be only Jewish and Muslim youth, and we had a fascinating discussion about what it’s like to be in the minority in our schools. Youth shared stories of needing to miss important rehearsals or sports games because of religious holidays. And while most of them enjoy the opportunity to share their religion with others, there was also shared frustration of situations in which people expect them to know everything about about Islam or Judaism.

Thank you to Noor Academy for hosting us for what we hope will be the beginning of many collaborations!

By Jordan Goldwarg, Northwest Regional Director

In Kids4Peace, we encourage our youth to be leaders, and one powerful way of exercising leadership is by speaking up for what you believe in. This is especially powerful when you speak up on behalf of another group. We called this being an upstander (as opposed to being a bystander when you see something bad happening).

This week, David, a participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, spoke up by writing a letter to the editor of his local newspaper. In recent weeks, David’s community has been the scene of an intense and, at times, ugly controversy about the building of a new mosque. Islamophobic sentiments, together with misinformation, have been spread very publicly, as documented by this article in the Seattle Globalist.

In response, David wrote a letter to the editor of his local newspaper, asking people to educate themselves and overcome their fears. Thank you, David, for being an upstander and speaking up for what’s right!

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David and other K4P Seattle youth, hard at work during a recent Kids4Peace Seattle service project at a local food bank.

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.

by Hannah Hochkeppel, K4P Seattle Program Director

An Evangelical Christian Pastor, a Unitarian Minister, a Buddhist Monk, and a Jewish Business Woman walk in to a room … and it is not the beginning of a bad or confusing joke!

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Interfaith Harmony Week banquet.  The theme of this year’s banquet was, “What in the world are we here for?”  This question, one I think many of us often ask ourselves in jest, was addressed by each of the 4 panelists.  Each panelist spoke from his or her own personal experience and personal faith tradition.  Despite the extremely different approaches to faith, spirituality, and the human experience, each panelist spoke of the interconnectedness of humanity and of a desire to work always for the greater good.

Rev. Jon Luopa, a Unitarian Minister, spoke of the transitive versus intransitive use of the word hope.   For so many, hope is confined to a specific item or idea – hoping for good weather on vacation, or hoping for a favorite present on our birthday.  Luopa challenged the audience to think more broadly about how we define hope.  What if hope was instead the way that we chose to approach our life each day?  What if hope brought about a self-awareness of the responsibility we have to the greater good?

Taijo, a Buddhist Monk, began his sharing with the story of a lotus flower, growing in a lotus pond to be big and beautiful, with an unrivaled delicious scent.  He painted the picture for all of us of this beautiful flower.  Then he began to describe the pond that the flower grows in.  Stagnant water, compost and waste, dirt and mud, the list goes on but it is obvious that this pond is dirty and smells decidedly less delicious than the flower.  This description jarred us from our image of this beautiful flower, to an image drastically different.  Taijo left us with this thought: if a flower as beautiful as the Lotus could grow from the disgusting lotus pond, what can come from the difficult, and decidedly less hopeful situations that we find ourselves in from day to day, week to week?

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As I was reflecting on the question, “Why on earth are we here,”  I settled on the word we.  We are here, we exist in the world.  I do not exist alone, nor do others exist alone, but we all exist together.  Many times this existing together as a dynamic we means that we find ourselves in messy lotus ponds fraught with political arguments, violent actions, and prejudice based on any number of judgements that one passes on the other.  Despite this mess, how does hope influence what grows?

In Kids4Peace, the interfaith work that we do is often messy.  It is hard, and emotionally draining.  Yet, it is also beautiful and life-giving.  The intentionality that we have as we cultivate growth amidst the messiness, intentionally seeing and upholding the gifts we see in others, gives me hope.  I am hopeful for the greater good of the we when I see others willing to come together amidst the mess, to find the roots for what one day, I hope, will be a big and beautiful flower.

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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!