It's been a busy summer with Little Friends for Peace, with summer camps to peace workshops to weddings -- and sometimes all of them at once!
Thank to our faithful volunteer corps, we have (as of today!) finished our summer camp season! The summer began in Arlington with a camp at UUCA, continued with a camp at Cheverly, Good Shepherd and wrapped up with two camps in Mt Rainier. Through it all, we were a "special" at Perry School Community Center. We held weekly workshops at Beacon House, with the HIPPY Program at Perry School, and at Virginia Gardens. On someday we were even in three places at once! That is all thanks to your support and involvement!
This summer, Little Friends for Peace has been planting seeds of Peace Internationally, inviting children of torture survivors from Cameroon, Uganda, and Ethiopia to attend our Peace Camps in Mt Ranier, while many Hispanics joined us in our Cheverly camp. All campers learned basic skills of Peace Building, met Peace Makers (from Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day to our volunteers Elizabeth who spent her spring break in New Orleans and Christy who is moving to volunteer in El Salvador this September).
It was so rewarding to see the benefits of Peace Camp grow and flourish throughout the summer. One camper at Perry School in particular grew astoundingly in skills of Peace. This camper had never been to Peace Camp and on his first day had a very difficult time working a group or even listening to a point of view besides his own. When we went to the Peace Table to try to resolve the conflict, he would interrupt or turn away. By the end of camp, he was initiating problem solving by asking to go to the Peace Table. He was able to express his point of view, listen to the other side without interrupting and maintaining eye contact, and make a deal! What an enormous growth in communication skills, self-confidence, and nonviolent conflict resolution skills!
See the link below to visit our website, or check out our new youtube video of LFFP Students Peacemaking quotes! As always, we treasure your support and greatly appreciate any comments or feedback.
Proving that peace is far from passive, LFFP has been busy planting, nurturing, and cultivating seeds of peace with many different folks. Some of our more recent activity includes:
* Two successful Family Night at Perry
* The planting of more Peace Gardens at Perry and in Sursum Corda
* Heartening successes with the Peace Table solving conflict between peace clubbers
* Peace Theatre by the Perry Peace Kids in the Peace Room, and
In addition, following are some more in-depth highlights of our most recent happenings.
Hands and Hearts
Tracing hands is an easy art project to do with children. Usually it's just for something to do, whether turning it into a turkey around Thanksgiving or a design on a home-made t-shirt. But we decided to draw our hands with the Perry School kids to think about all the positive things we do with them. Peace can sometimes seem like an abstract concept, but as we traced our hands and pasted them on construction paper, we remember that peace starts in our hearts and gets put into action through the work of our hands. Words like "cooking," "hugging," "gardening," and "building" were written by the kids as they thought about all the different things their hands do and, combined on the larger poster, we all drew ourselves being peacemakers with our hands too.
Contagious Love Experiment
The Contagious Love Experiment was the theme for the month of February. Two Iraq War veterans walked and biked across the U.S. having learned the lesson in war that love can be just as contagious as fear (www.contagiousloveexperiment.wordpress.com). One of them, Josh Stieber, who grew up near DC, has returned to the area and spends two afternoons a week at the Perry School. Together with Little Friends for Peace, we've all been learning that it doesn't just take big trips across the country to work for peace, but even the smallest decisions and actions we take every day have the potential to spread fear and anger... or, though often much harder, love and understanding.
The Peace Cafe is a highlight for the students at the Perry School. There have been a few times when scheduling has pushed back the cafe and these delays are met with great disappointment. Fortunately those times and rare and just go to show how important it is to work together to prepare food and dine as friends. Sometimes there is bickering over who does what in the kitchen, but the task of cooking as a team has helped us to learn to work together in ways that doing crafts as individuals or pairs can't. Some days take longer than others, but at the end of it, it's satisfying to know that they skills we learned in teamwork and overcoming our disagreements has come together into a delicious meal that we can all enjoy.
New School Comes to the Perry Peace Room and the Sursum Corda Neighborhood
LFFP recently partnered with a group of Nantucket students on their 8th grade trip to our Peace Room at Perry School. The Peace Room was filled to overflowing as the Peace Kids recited their pledge and sang a peace song, introducing their new friends to the Peace Room. Not long after, creative peaceful energy was seen across Perry School, with one group of kids and volunteers in the kitchen cooking, another gardening around the Peace Pole out front, and yet another inventing Peace games and drawing in the Peace Room. By the end of the afternoon, everyone was happy and hungry and ready to come together to share tacos in the Peace Cafe.
We are very touched by Matt's thoughtful reflection on the event:
Thank you-thank you-thank you.
At least four of my girls said that our stay at LFFP was not only the best part of the DC trip, but the best part of their last year with us!
I am overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with hope. As long as this world has people like you, Jerry and your children-there will be hope (and peace).
Until we meet again, my new friend, Peace be with you and in your neighborhood.
Holy Trinity Youth Partner with LFFP to do Community Service
Holy Trinity, a Catholic Parish in Georgetown, has also begun a partnership with LFFP. Conversations between LFFP and the Social Justice Ministry began during lent and have been bearing much fruit, as Holy Trinity has said that they would like to partner with us for the long term! Volunteers have joined LFFP for Family Night at Perry School, presenting on healthy food to children and their families, as well as for gardening and playing in the Sursum Corda with the neighborhood kids. LFFP has given several workshops on Peace to Holy Trinity. This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Kicks for Kids: Perry Kids go to Soccer game at RFK
We recently took our Perry Peace Kids on an outing to DC United Game. It was a beautiful night and all had a good time. The kids got t-shirts, pom-poms and lunch bags . They cheered and danced in their seats, laughed and just let go. We are thankful for Sarah, Josh, Mr. Patrick and Terrell coming along to supervise the group and join in on the fun.
Peace TV at Eastern High Middle
Jerry and MJ were the feature speakers at Eastern High Middle School in Silver Spring’s media class that presents on a cable TV show. Invited by a former peace camper, MJ and Jerry put peace in the spotlight. Stay tuned for the segment as soon as we receive the media class’ final product.
Peace Leaders Set the Stage for a Continued Partnership
University of Maryland volunteers Lauren, Pam, and Mary Claire recently delivered their final presentation for the Leadership and Community Based Learning Class through which they got involved with LFFP. The presentation was excellent. Afterwards, their professors and Dean of the Department invited LFFP to continue partnering. We all look forward to welcoming more community leaders from UMD next year. In the meantime, Lauren, Pam, and Mary Claire held a t-shirt painting fundraiser for LFFP at their school, continuing to impress us with their leadership and impact!
International Peace Partnership
In mid-April, Josh led the students in creating a video letter of peace and solidarity to students in Afghanistan. See the link below to watch!
On May 6th, two women who each run a Peace and Conflict Resolution program in Korea came to visit LFFP and the Peace Room at Perry. We excitedly prepared for this impromptu peace experience with Lauren, a young adult contact who put them in touch with us. It was a wonderful cross-cultural exchange. Both women are currently here in US to take a 40 day course in Peace Studies at Eastern Mennonite College. The same evening we also we met with a delegation of Hiroshima survivors from Japan. We cherish our time learning from each other and our varied experiences of peace and unpeace.
Some Recent Happenings in the Peace Room at Perry
Hands and Hearts
As always, we look forward to hearing any hopes, dreams, or suggestions you have for us!
In December, both students from the Perry School and from Sursum Corda had the opportunity to visit the New Peace Oasis! There, they experience Peace in Nature, in outside games, and even in trips to a Colonial Farm down the road! Highlighting the peace experience for the children from Sursum Corda was the Christmas story told by the children to special guest Fr. Larry in the Mother Theresa Room. Also exciting for the children was braving the cold to ride bikes, play in the field, and swing on the tire swing. LFFP is very grateful to Maryland’s Just Faith group who came out to prepare lunch for the children, fueling them for their fun-filled day in nature. MS MJ led the Perry School children in a nature exercise, having everyone face the forest in a moment of silence, to practice suing their sense. Afterwards, each person described what they had seen, heard, or smelt. . Nature’s magnificence is an important stimulant for taking in information, while reflective practice leaves a calming imprint. Throughout their Peace Oasis adventure, the children were excited, happy and full of exploratory energy. Their peace experience was rich with opportunities to connect with each other and nature in a safe place designated for sharing and caring. We look forward to many more times this coming year of Peaceful exploratory times at the Peace Oasis!
We began the New Year this past January by exploring Pathways to Peace, through storytelling, role playing, the examples of live visitors, co-operative games, singing, journaling, and sharing. We had many guests come in and share their story of their pathway to Peace with the children and invite them to think about how they can make Peace.
One of our visitors was our Ghanaian partner, Kweku, who came to the US to support his youth project in Ghana by selling handmade drums. He taught the LFFP children how to make use of the drum for peace by creating and dancing to the rhythms of the drum beat.
Another guest was Pastor Brian from the Mt Ranier Christian Church, who shared his Pathway to Peace through helping people and bringing them together. Unis, from Ethiopia who now lives in Mt Ranier, shared that she makes Peace through her studies and efforts to learn about and understand others.
The Georgetown Medical Student Service Learners were interviewed by the Peace children about why they chose to make Peace by becoming Doctors. The Medical students then asked the children what they want to do and how they will create a path to get there. It was a day of sharing that was impactful on all present, building relationships and self-esteem for all.
Finally we have our University Volunteers: In addition to our growing Georgetown and George Washington volunteer groups, our University of Maryland students have doubled their presence in the Peace Room! Recently, we had so many volunteers, that they were able to pair one on one with the Peace Children – together, they each drew a picture of their favorite activity. It was an awesome afternoon of self-esteem building as the children were receiving the care and attention that they so deserve. Von was very taken with one of the volunteers named Matt. They drew pictures of their favorite activities and then exchanged drawings. Matt declared that he would post Von's picture in his dorm room and Von said that he would post Matt's picture in his bedroom.
Throughout this month, we have seen and heard about a variety of Pathways to Peace and the Peace Children have been sharing their own dreams. As we move into February, our theme will be, “A Force More Powerful: LOVE.” The Peace Room will be redecorated and in the coming weeks we will explore through activities, games, and visitors this life-changing and Peace-building force of Love.
Also very exciting is that this January, MJ and Jerry Park, our co-Directors, won the “The Planting Seeds of Peace Award” from the Washington Peace Center!
We thank you so much for your support in all the ways that you give it – donations, time, thoughts, and prayers! We look forward to continuing to build Peace with you – please share your dreams and thoughts with us for Little Friends for Peace as walk this road together.
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