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.
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.
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!