"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 discrimination and stigma that surrounds them everyday. From bullying, to being ignored, to young LGBTQ people who have no support from their own families, youth today much navigate this frightening world as they exlpore and create their own identies and come to understand who they are, and who they want to be!
For LGBTQ youth, the tensions they face are often born out of misunderstandings and stereotypes that paint a mostly negative picture people with various sexual identities. For many youth, thay have had little or no opportunity to discuss sexual identity and gender issues in a safe, supportive environment, making life at least difficult for out LGBTQ youth, 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 against the stereotypes of LGBTQ people and defending the rights of ALL youth, regardless of their sexual orientation. 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 stigma associated with sexual orientation 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!