From all of us at Great Lakes Peace Jam, we wanted to thank everyone who has so generously donated to our project. Your support has made it possible to reach thousands of youth in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Our program has helped so many young people fine their inner strength, and having the opportunity to work with Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and have the authentic experience of being leaders in their communities and schools has given them to tools they need to confront intolerance in a positive way.
As we look to the future, we hope to continue to support the youth in the four state region in a positive and sustainable way. Thank you all again for the generosity, kindness and compassion you have shown to so many young people who often feel lost and isolated in a complicated world.
From all of us at Great Lakes PeaceJam - Thank you!
"My aim is to show that those governments that violate the rights of people by invoking the name of Islam have been misusing Islam." - Dr. Shirin Ebadi
The best time of year at Great Lakes PeaceJam is spring! Not only are we happily awaiting the first signs of green - but we are gearing up to bring hundreds of high school aged PeaceJammers together to spend a weekend with a Nobel Peace Laureate.
This year, we could not be happier to welcome Dr. Shirin Ebadi of Iran. As the first female Judge in Iran - a title later stripped from her as the religous clerics determined that women could no longer serve as judges - she was awarded her Nobel Prize in 2003 for her tireless efforts defending the rights of women and children in her own country. Due to an increasing numbers of death threats, Dr. Ebadi has had to leave Iran and now lives in exile.
Her visit to PeaceJam could not be more timely. The youth we work with tell us stories of the violence that surrounds them everyday. From bullying to fights to even being violent with themselves, young people today must navigate this frightening world.
For Muslim American youth, the tensions they face are often born out of misunderstandings and stereotypes that paint a mostly negative picture is Islam and Muslim people. For most youth in our country, thay have had little or no opportunity to know anything different about Islam and their fellow Americans.This has made life at least difficult, and in some tragic cases dangerous.
Dr. Ebadi's story is so important for our youth today. Not only did she survive some of the most deadly bullying and hate in the world, she has used these experiences of standing up for herself, other women and youth to thrive!
While she is most well know for her work defending the rights of women and youth, she has also been a leader in educating our global community that Islam is not synonmous with violence, but rather it is violence born out of greed and aspirations of power. As Dr. Ebadi has said, "Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization."
On April 13th, hundreds of youth from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana will come together to hear Dr. Ebadi speak about finding your inner light, even when your are surrounded by darkness, and how each and every youth can make a difference in ending hate and intolerance in their home, their schools, their neighborhoods and communities. This is especially exciting as the youth have been studying all year.
We want ALL PeaceJam youth to have the opportunity to meet Dr. Ebadi, to work directly with her during the weekend, and to explain to her the service project they have been working on in their clubs. Unfortunately, many of our PeaceJammers are simply unable to pay the basic fee to participate.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
For only $100, you can sponsor a youth to spend the weekend with a Nobel Laureate! This includes food for the weekend, t-shirts, participation in workshops and service learning projects - and the invaluable experience of working directly with a world leader of peace!
Stay tuned for great pictures and stories from our April 13-14 Youth Conference weekend!
Thank you ALL for your generous support!
It is unbelievable that we are starting a new school year already! And as the youth from our families and communities return to school, we here are Seeding Change are busy preparing for what promises to be another very busy year for PeaceJam youth.
Last year at our Youth Conference with the Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the youth participants painted a disturbing picture - one of students being afraid to go to school as they were singled out for bullying (including one young woman who was picked on for being too pretty and turn to cutting herself as a way to cope), another afraid to go home where abuse was common and no one in his life knew, a young exchange student from Pakistan afraid that she will be murdered for accepting a scholarship to study in the U.S., and still another who had been told his whole like that his only options were jail or death - until they found PeaceJam.
PeaceJam has not only provided a safe space for youth, it also supported youth to create a peer group where these very frightening issues can be shared, and maybe most important, empowered them to make the change they want to see in the world.
As our new academic year begins, we will be bringing our high school aged PeaceJam youth to Battle Creek, Michigan to launch a new year of social change on November 17th. The theme our youth have determined for this year is gender based violence. Unfortunately, this remains a common concern in their daily lives and more and more examples are brought to light of the kinds of hatred and violence youth face every day around the world.
Please join us in supporting these youth led initiatives as our PeaceJammers identify the root causes of the hatred and violence and work together to create the change the envision for themselves, and the young people following in their footsteps!
Our 10th Annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference
This spring we were so proud to welcome Nobel Laureate, Mrs. Rigoberta Menchu Tum to Michigan to join over 200 youth from the region in a weekend long celebration of their experiences with PeaceJam.
At our 10th Annual Youth Conference, we were so moved to hear from so many young people how much violence - both physical and emotional - they encounter in their daily lives. Inspired by the story of Rigoberta Menchu Tum in Guatemala who find non-violent ways to combat that hate and discrimination in her country that led to the murder of most of her family, our PeaceJam Clubs created beautiful service learning projects to change their corner of the world. A few examples include:
Euclid High School Mediators – PeaceJam students regularly engage their peers as conflict mediators, using a six-step process and nonviolent communication techniques to teach students to break the cycle of violence; they are in dialogue with the larger community to build awareness and conflict resolution skills; and providing support to victims of violence and people who have lost a loved one due to violence. Euclid, OH.
Mattawan High School- Youth worked with teachers to tutor their peers to fight ignorance, oppression, violence, and bullying; worked with youth in their school to build their confidence to do better in school, and to understand how an individual's actions and decisions create a ripple effect. Mattawan, MI.
South Side Community Center – This group focused their efforts on fighting gang violence. They began by surveying their peers to determine the level of violence youth experience in the community. The results of this survey were they disseminated in the school community to find ways to create change. Lansing, MI.
St. Peters School – These PeaceJammers are working with 7-12 graders to break the cycle of violence in their community by encouraging all students to sign a peace pledge, celebrating World Peace Day in May, hosting a blue ribbon campaign to fight child abuse, and raising funds and awareness to fight human trafficking in the U.S. Mansfield, OH.
These projects were so inspirational, and highlighted the potential that our youth have to create positive change. With the support of donors like you, we would never be able to provide this programming throughout the Great Lakes region.
This Youth Conference was particularly moving with individual youth sharing their stories of struggle with the Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Some stories stood out more than others. A young exchange student from Pakistan talked about how terrified she was that she would be killed when she came to study in the United States, one young man told a story of he and his girlfriend being harassed because they are an inter-racial couple, and perhaps most striking were the number of youth who said that their PeaceJam club was the only place that they felt completely accepted and safe.
Please help us to support these youth in making their own live safer, and in empowering youth to stand-up to all kinds of intolerance that they face.
We thank you for your interest and generous support!
We are happy to say that the 2011 Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference was a success! On April 2nd and 3rd, high school PeaceJam students gathered from all over Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to hear from 1980 Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and to engage in education and service across Kalamazoo. Great Lakes PeaceJam Staff and Volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to engage and interact with PeaceJam youth and their advisors, as well as meet many new students.
As a part of the weekend’s events, students served the broader community by participating in activities from gardening and home-building, to mentoring younger children and contributing to a Kalamazoo Valley Museum exhibit. As is always the case, PeaceJammers took up these projects with great energy and enthusiasm. We thank them for their hard work. We also would like to say thank you to all of the organizations that hosted our young people.
Students also participated in various workshops ranging in topics from Immigration and Health Care, to Tai Chi and Non-Violent Communication. Thank you also to our many workshop presenters who so generously gave of their time to provide important education to our PeaceJam youth.
We truly are proud of PeaceJam Ambassadors across our region and are inspired by their tenacity. We had an amazing time and look forward to seeing everyone again this Fall!
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