DSC00223

Mawish Raza, our very own Communications Manager, started off the morning by leading a workshop on public narrative and the importance of sharing your story. She introduced the workshop by sharing her own story, providing the youth with an example of how one story can inspire others. Mawish emphasized the importance of having a community, explaining that “what Kids4Peace does is it teach us how to relate to the community we are a part of.” The group discussed how stories shape the world, and themselves as individuals. A focus was placed on how leadership is driven by stories, and how leaders can spark a movement and inspire others to take action through public dialogue. Every participant of the Global Institute has a story to share, and this workshop served as a reminder to him or her that they should be aware of how their story can impact others. Mawish spoke to the group and encouraged them to raise their voice and make their story heard; “If you have ever gone through a challenge, you have a story to tell. If you ever had to make a difficult decision that made an impact on your life’s direction, you have a story to tell. Each one of us has a story to tell. Your lives are very unique to yourselves, and regardless of if you think you have a story to tell, the life choices you have made are one of many stories you can share.” The youth responded positively and used the lessons that they took away from this workshop to practice telling their own public narrative.

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 8.23.50 AM

“I now understand the importance of telling my story, whether it’s sharing my own narrative, a group’s narrative, or the narrative of a situation that’s affecting present times.” – Liat, Jewish, Jerusalem

Project Over Zero joined us to discuss locating and responding to our fears. A variety of activities and discussions took place and the takeaway lessons from this workshop were significant.

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 8.23.25 AM

“The fear I’ve experienced in my life has motivated me to work harder. I’ve learned that how you react to fear determines whether or not the outcome will be positive, and you should try to overcome the fear and create a positive change from it.” – Fawzi, Muslim, Boston

DSC00321

Later in the evening, we watched a documentary called After Freddie Gray: What Now?, in preparation for our trip to Baltimore. We wrapped up our movie night with Hidden Figures. This significant, historically based movie touches on the realistic obstacles that three woman of color who worked for NASA faced and overcame; successfully helping to launch astronaut John Glenn into space. Both films are incredibly inspiring and educational, and our youth gained a lot from watching them and learning about conflicts that are still very sensitive.

 

DSC09681

We kicked of the global institute today and so far it’s been a major success. The morning was spent familiarizing ourselves with one another and discussing guidelines that formed our community agreement; an agreement that will allow our time together to be productive and respectful on all accounts. We took time to reflect on our experience at Kids4Peace in our hometowns, and what we have learned from our participation.

“We may have different beliefs and religions but we are all similar in that we are all striving to make the world a better place.” – David, Christian, Kids4Peace Boston.

DSC09953

LearnServe International and Hear My Voice joined us this afternoon and introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship and provided us with tools to work on creating a solution to issues that are currently facing people and places all over the world. The issues brought up included climate change, bullying, access to education, disabilities awareness, and others. Our youth used LearnServe’s Problem Tree Method to find solutions to different problems that affected their communities. This method involves understanding the root of the problem and considering the effects that branch from this issue. There was a great deal of focus placed on educating the younger generation about current issues and situations, in order to prevent ignorance from having a negative influence on society. Two participants spoke about the importance of hearing all perspectives to an issue and the issue of ignorance:

“You need to see the validity of the other side of the argument and not only shoot down ideas because you don’t agree with them. Our younger generation is often shot down and said to not be capable of making any changes because we don’t understand the situation, but the perception of our inability to change things is false.” – Hallel, Jewish, Philadelphia

“The root of so many of the problems we’ve been discussing is ignorance. Do your research, don’t believe everything you hear without checking the facts first. Share your opinion but only if it’s based off of the truth. You don’t have to accept someone else’s beliefs as long as understand them and are willing to listen.” – Evan, Christian, Kids4Peace Seattle

LearnServe explained that it is not always possible to address the entirety of a problem but that should not discourage efforts. A centralized focus on specific aspects of a problem can allow for a greater impact, and that impact can then effect even greater change. The issues and possible solutions that were discussed today are a part of the personal plan work that the youth will be focusing on next year, after graduating the Global Institute. Scott said it best when he explained that; this is not the end of the conversation but the start of it and the beginning of working towards a solution on the problems that you’ve been discussing.”

DSC00113

We were privileged to hear from Aaron Jenkins from the Expectations Project this evening, to discuss the challenges we face and how to push past the hard discussions in order to have a meaning conversation and create change. Aaron explained the importance of surrounding oneself with people who are optimistic and believe that change is possible. Movements like Kids4Peace and The Expectations Project, and those who are involved in them, are examples of such optimism in the power of change. Incredible signs of leadership were displayed today passion and desire that these youth have to make a real change is inspiring.   

sarahGood luck to our beloved Sarah, the outgoing Kids4Peace Jerusalem Youth Director. 

Sarah Stone was in charge of the educational programming and curriculum development for all youth programs in Kids4Peace Jerusalem. Sarah is dedicated to informal education in divided societies, and in bringing youth together to learn, grow, and create change. Sarah left Jerusalem this past January to complete her Master’s of Public Administration in Urban & Social Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in NewYork. Her degree is in the Education Policy track with a focus on Management.

“I am focusing on education policy in divided cities, and on the role of informal education in developing educational frameworks for youth of different backgrounds to build understanding, empathy, and advocacy skills together.” 

20449316_1175725742533486_4080699755186829376_o

While in New York, she is working in after-school educational programs and also working in research on school integration in the American and New York City contexts.
She’ll be briefly in Jerusalem this summer directing the summer day camp at the Hand in Hand school, and very much miss the Kids4Peace youth, parents, and staff communities!
Sarah stepped away from her responsibilities at Kids4Peace  this summer due to her studies and the limited amount of time in between semesters. She’ll be staying in New York until December to complete her studies, and then we hope she’ll return to Jerusalem and Kids4Peace.
If you’d like to reach out to Sarah personally, please email her at sbs2181@columbia.edu.

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

My name is Alex. I am a 9th grade Christian, and am in my 4th year at Kids4Peace.

DSC_0717

Alex and Monica during our Fall Retreat.

I joined Kids4Peace because I was going to a Christian private school in a primarily white neighborhood. I saw a lack of diversity in my life, but once I joined Kids4Peace I saw kids my age with different views and backgrounds together. Kids4Peace is important to me because I can see change happening, I can make change happen. Since I have joined Kids4Peace, I have taken detours from days at the mall to protest in the airport, taught world religion lessons to the kids at my sister’s middle school, pulled weeds in immigrant farmer’s fields, and met kids who live on the other side of the world.

Half of these things I did not even do within Kids4Peace programs, but I guarantee you I would not have done them if I was not in this program. This is why Kids4Peace is important: it not only has us create change in our Kids4Peace community, but it inspires us to go back into our own communities and create change every day.

Growing up I always had a specific idea of how I should act and how I should be because of the community I grew up in. In Kids4Peace I can share my values without fear of judgment, IN KIDS4PEACE MY VOICE IS HEARD.

Kids4Peace is a name that not everyone understands because here in Seattle we are not fighting a physical war, but that does not mean we do not have things to stand for. In Kids4Peace we strive for equity, we push for love, we struggle for the voices of everyone to be heard, we lobby for social justice, locally, nationally, and internationally.

We hope you have learned a thing or two about our organization this evening, and that you are inspired by our hope for peace and equity both in our community and across the world.

Alex

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

Hi my name is Lia, I’m Jewish and in 10th grade. I’ve only been a part of K4P for one year, but it has already become such an important part of my life.

In K4P we are able to form bonds and make connections with people outside of our normal social circles. That can mean someone of a different faith or ethnicity in Seattle and in Jerusalem. I have met so many incredible people and heard so many eye-opening stories about their lives, goals and passion for change.

One story in particular that sticks out to me about meeting new people was last summer when I was in Washington D.C. at the Kids4Peace Global Institute. It opened my eyes to a different way of viewing race in the United States. After spending a week learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the implications of it, I was overwhelmed with the ideas of the hardships that my friends in Jerusalem live with everyday. Then, one day we had a fishbowl discussion which is where a group of people sitting in the center have a discussion and a group of people on the outside observe, just like a fishbowl. We were split up by country and we were asked questions such as “What do you love about your country?” “What do you fear about your country?” And “What do you wish people would know about your country?” Going into it, I was certain that the Palestinians and Israelis would have the most difficult examples to share for some of the questions. But when the American group began to discuss some of the questions, I had to switch my mindset back to the reality of everything that is wrong and the racism millions of Americans are affected by.

 

IMG-20170720-WA0021

Lia with her peers in Washington D.C.

 

Up until that point I had been somewhat aware of police brutality and discrimination, but I had never heard personal experiences. When we started discussing our fears I was deeply moved by the fact that one of our amazing leaders, who is black, opened up about her experience with police violence after losing a loved one in a confrontation with police. She talked about the fear she lives with everyday worrying about the safety of her family and friend’s, the way she feels when she sees a police officer, and other struggles of being a black person in America. Brianna told us how determined she was to dismantle prejudice and racism especially in our police forces. It was emotional, honest, and motivating at the same time.

It made me think differently about the safety of my friends who are people of color and how they must feel towards the police. When we returned to Seattle, I learned about initiative-940, De-escalate Washington. De-escalate Washington, is an initiative that would “require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation.” I was very inspired by what Brianna had said and it had made me so much more inclined and excited to want to get involved and work to make this a law. We were going to be working with people who are trying to achieve the same thing that Brianna is. I was able to canvas and gather signatures and educate others about the initiative. The whole time that I was doing it I kept telling myself, this is for Brianna and for everyone who has ever been affected by police shootings.

 

IMG_20171217_163058

Lia, with others in Seattle, canvassing for I-940.

 

Although I’m still too young to vote, I am trying my best to make any impact I can politically and socially in my community. Through Kids4Peace, I have been able to use my voice to spark the change the I want to see in my society. Similarly most of you might not be a participant in the program, but still want to help in any way that you can. You are all here tonight because you also care about Kids4Peace and you care about helping empower youth to be leaders for social change. Now is your chance to take action to help make that happen. By donating to Kids4Peace you would not only be helping to fund our amazing programs and camps but also helping give youth in our community who can’t afford to come to our camps the opportunity to join us and learn and make these very special connections. I hope you will support Kids4Peace, because all of your contributions matter. Thank you!

 

22104771_898540990296048_1108860535667388902_o

Lia and Frieda during the Kids4Peace Fall Retreat.

 

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

Hello my name is Frieda, I am in 10th grade and have been a part of Kids4Peace for 5 years.

Kids4Peace is a huge part of my life. It has given me a supportive community and lifelong friends. These friends live all over the United States from Seattle to Boston to Florida to Houston. Some of my closest friends also live on the other side of the world in Jerusalem.

I keep in touch with my friends across the world. We Skype and have a group chat with almost 50 people. I Snapchat my friends for advice. Across a 10 hour time difference, I have deep philosophical conversations with them.

I love how Kids4Peace is a normal summer camp where we hang out together, have inside jokes, and grow up together, but Kids4Peace is also a community where we can do something meaningful in the world around us. For example, this past summer in Washington DC we lobbied for a bill on Capitol Hill.  This work makes me feel like I’m really making a significant impact on our global community.

IMG_7798

Frieda with friends on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

Though my friends and I lead very different lives, we are connected through our passion for making change in this challenging world. Like the students across the US protesting gun violence, we don’t have to wait to be adults to make change.

This past February, during Black History Month, my history teacher was leading a mandated unit on racism and how to recognize it.  As I was sitting in class, I could tell that the curriculum was lacking in many areas that we have discussed in Kids4Peace. Knowing that there were better ways to approach this topic, I took the time to discuss this with him. During our conversation, I was able to share some of the knowledge I have gained and help him understand how he could be more thoughtful when he approaches this subject in the future.

 

IMG_20171115_154821

Frieda, Martina, Alex, and Lia speaking about their experiences and work in Kids4Peace.

 

This evening you have heard stories about Kids4Peace in Seattle… Kids4Peace in France… and Kids4Peace in Jerusalem. K4P youth around the world are making change in our own communities.

Tonight my friends and I are excited to share with you a little bit of the work we are doing here in Seattle. This video will show you a small part of what we are doing every day to make a difference.

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 Evan, a 9th grade participant in Kids4Peace Seattle, at Inspiring Hope, The Kids4Peace Seattle Annual Benefit.

My name is Evan, and I’m a 9th grader in the Kids4Peace program. I’ve been in Kids4Peace for 4 years now, and I’ve been exposed to many things I never would have experienced before.

I’ve only lived here in Seattle for 4 years, and Kids4Peace has made my move to Washington State easier. In the time I’ve been here Kids4Peace has changed the way I see the world, making it an organization like no other. But I didn’t always feel this way.

I first joined Kids4Peace in 2014 at the recommendation of my youth group leader, and at first I was hesitant. Kids4Peace seemed like a large commitment, and I had just moved here. I wasn’t sure I was up for the job.

20914448_877029632447184_3929646093450663315_n

Looking back, I am so glad I decided to join. On the outside, Kids4Peace seems like a simple peace building organization, and though it does do that, it is so much more. When asked about my time in Kids4Peace, I always answer the same thing. Kids4Peace is a community, a family. The people here support each other, whether one of us is in need of help, or whether we are educating each other on the wonders of stroopwafels.

Kids4Peace has also guided me to things I never expected to be a part of, such as activism work, marches, workshops of all shapes and sizes, and summer programs that are not only enlightening, but extremely fun.

 

16266227_754704214679727_615164697004164893_n

Evan, Jordan, Jacob, and Risa attended a march in downtown Seattle — January 2017

 

I remember a while back we engaged in a poverty simulation, which opened my eyes. Many people feel bad for those who are less fortunate, but simply move on with their lives. They forget. Kids4Peace showed us more about people who live with this reality every day, the reality of not being able to support themselves or their families. The simulation helped us learn what this was like through unfair treatment, loss of belongings, and lack of basic rights. I left having met others who have experienced these things, knowing their stories and having a better understanding of their daily lives.

Kids4Peace has taught me about important values such as acceptance, and compromise, as well as showing me more about social division and conflict happening not just in our area, but around the world. Kids4Peace has changed my life.

DSC_0648

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.

DSC_0940

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.

tent city

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!

 

IMG_6252

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