I wanted to give you a brief update from my weekend as a mentor at the Rocky Mountain Regional PeaceJam with hundreds of outstanding youth and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams to address redefining human security, one of the ten issues of the Global Call to Action. Be sure to read up on the outstanding work Jody is engaged in with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and more about herself and the other laureates in the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a very important and pivotal step in recognizing the contribution of women in peacebuilding.
PeaceJam is an outstanding organization that encourages youth to engage in community social justice work modeled around the values, work and lives of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Laureates have given a great charge to the youth of the world.
Today we ask the young leaders of PeaceJam, and the youth of the entire world, to join us in a Global Call to Action. For the next ten years, we invite them to work side by side with us as we address ten fundamental issues. These ten core problems are at the root of much of the suffering in our world, and we believe that young people can mobilize to make a difference in these ten key areas. Over the coming decade, we will continue to lead this effort, which is being launched today at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the PeaceJam Foundation.
I was there that September day when the GCA was announced as a mentor at my very first PJ. The energy in the room was overwhelming – 2,000 students and these visionary 10. I can’t really explain the full spectrum of a PeaceJam experience for you. It’s rock concert for justice and the star happens to be some of the greatest activists and visionary thinkers of our time. And 8th graders hoola hoop and scream and dance to welcome the humble Laureates and ask brilliant questions on disarmament and childhood and what their favorite music is. There are team building games and the human chair (so much fun and oh so much about the trust) and an open mic that will knock the socks off the most seasoned adults. Seeing youth coming together harnessing their own voices with their own power inspires me to no end. I am so proud (and sometimes teary eyed) at how outstanding my fellow human beings are and impressed and the sheer scope of their ideas, dreams, passions and observations about the world around them. The stereotypes of the “jock”, “shy goth” and “punk” don’t exist. Artsy kids will sit with the hip hop crowd. Football players will hang by the lockers with the skaters. And they will* get down* on the dance floor with a global peacemaker.
Yes, I’m telling you here first: Jody can move it on the dance floor, is so very approachable and adorable learning to break dance from high schoolers, answering their questions in the hall, signing shirts in the cafeteria, challenging them in lecture sessions. It’s amazing. When someone in a position of power pays attention to a young person like this I notice a shift in their attitude. They sit a little higher, breathe a bit more between comments in our small family discussion groups. They take themselves seriously and respect each other because they are told again and again that who they are and what they have to offer matter to the world.
As a group mentor I get to spend a few hours a day in small group discussion with the youth who attend. We talk about their lives, their beliefs about justice and hatred and the ways they experience suffering in the world. We play a lot of group games as well, trivia,” two truths and a lie” is always a hit. But there is common energy that we exist together because we question power and society and whether we can make a difference. We are sarcastic and give each other a playfully hard time when amidst a game of “All My Homies” but mostly we give each other time to exist, as is, in the hoola hoop loving weekend of PeaceJam.
I am *so* inspired and impressed when I meet these funny, bright, thoughtful youth and only wish I could have been as insightful when I was in 7th or 9th grade. It’s not cake. There are attiudes and personality clashs but when they do occur it is because we know there is a story there that needs to be heard.
Today the groups did some amazing service projects in the Denver community, participated in a lecture and Q&A by Jody, had awesome meals, a concert and our great family group discussion times. Tomorrow is Day 2 and we’re rolling in with a ceremony of inspiration with Jody, workshop sessions and the big unveiling of the great projects the students have been doing. I hear there will also be a few announcements to the world on a new component of the GCA.
I’ll report back to you tomorrow about what Jody shared with us and the fun and inspiration that was had. I’m tired out by joy tonight.
Be sure to check out http://globalcalltoaction.org/ for more info and to find out how you can sign up your vision and project in the historic 10 year/10 issue plan Global Call to Action.
Singing in the rain, (PJ inside joke..) MJ