Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Casady Teen Reflects on Peace Week 2014

Whereas I was not able to participate in quite the strength that I would have originally liked to, this year's Peace Week turned out exponentially better than last year's, and involved a significantly larger portion of our Casady Community doing acts of kindness,compassion, and service. 

The Upper School managed to make roughly 1,000 pinwheels and raised $1,000 for Pepper's Ranch, a non-profit organization focused on getting orphaned foster kids out of the Oklahoma Foster System and house them until they are able to find a "forever home". In contrast to last year where the entire Upper Division only managed to make a few  pinwheels. I am happy that I was able to go with Mrs. Clay to Pepper's Ranch this summer and organize this and this worked out. Mrs. Crossno was instrumental in organizing a vast amount of the pinwheels being made by utilizing her freshman English classes.  Two UD Spanish teachers and the whole MD language department as well as all the Lower Division and the Primary also made pinwheels for peace.

From what I could see, Claire's peace art advocacy project was a big hit with the lower schoolers, who made benches where to sit when in need of a peaceful moment and Cathy's connection's to peace through sports worked out well at the Matt Terry Memorial Softball fundraiser.

Unfortunately, due to bad weather earlier in the day, Miranda's picture of school wide unity-4-peace ended up being just of the Upper School, but now we know how we can better situate the circumstances of such an activity should we want to re-create a similar activity again in the future.

Johnny and my presentation in Chapel featuring advocacy for Peace One Day and the Compassion Games through videos was alright, but moving forward I think we as a group realized the importance in planning ahead.

We were also fortunate enough to Skype with the Education Ambassador of Peace One Day, John Harrington, who was very complimentary about what we were doing, but I wished we had discussed more of what we could do to have an impact on a larger scale, and maybe we can explore that as a possible avenue for next year.

I  truly believe what made this year's 11 Days of Global Unity more cohesive and doable was the amount of work and time-We (The Peace Team-Johnny, Miranda, Cathy Claire/I/Mrs Clay) invested during the summer.

Thankfully, Mrs. Clay and Youth Lead adults-Mr. Noel Jacobs- and Casady YAC/Youth LEAD member, Mallory W.- were able to attend the Day for Kids at the Boys and Girls Club on Saturday the 20th.  They were able to uphold our commitment to them and provided a diversity of ways of stating peace and kindness in the different languages represented at the Interfaith Alliance Foundation and the tapestry of cultural diversity of teens in YLOKCasady.  The Casady Service-Learning Program provided materials and volunteers to empower participants to leave their "Vision of Peace." 

Participants and volunteers who stopped at our booth also took a seedling to plant in their community on the International Day of Peace, September 21.  300 seedlings were given away.  The seedlings were donated by the Oklahoma Department of Forestry. The goal of seedling planting is to raise awareness of the international initiative facilitated by the ENO Programme Online to plant 100 million trees by 2017. 

Unfortunately, due to debate tournaments, I missed the Boys and Girls Club event as well as the Youth LEAD OKC lock-in training at Camp Fire USA where a diverse group of teens learned how to facilitate connecting ice breakers and organize and plan and implement a culturally enhancing project for Positive Tomorrow, our local school for homeless children.  The project will take place on December 18, 2014.

Mrs. Clay and my Recipeace meal initiative with restaurants did not pan out quite as we had hoped on 9/21/2014, but we did meet a very receptive bunch of people, and found out that small business are the only ones realistically able to partner with us as we move forward. We are thankful to our school chef for making a soup from the recipeace website and helping us raise awareness of bringing peace to our tables.

I also missed the Conference of Churches Youth Tour on Sunday the 21st, which I had planned to facilitate and, amazingly 300 people showed up, where we had initially predicted only 180.  The Casady Service-Learning Program was also connected to a celebration of Peace Day the evening of the 21st of September when peace organizations collaborating with the United Nations of Greater Oklahoma City Chapter respectfully observed the day through sharing peace building stories at the Oklahoma City University, Student Center, Grand Hall.  Hopefully next year I am able to organize my debate schedule around Peace Week and am able to facilitate the Interfaith Youth Tour and take on a more direct role in Peace Week vs the more indirect role that I had this year.

During this experience with Peace Week, and all the planning it entailed, I learnt how to proposition various businesses, facilitate meetings outside of Youth LEAD, and for that I am truly grateful. As we look to improving Peace Week, continue to progress, and add to Peace Week here at Casady, and awareness of the International Day of Peace on a Global front; I can smile knowing that even though it was not as spectacular as I could have imagined, it was successfully accomplished, and I can move forward knowing that my voice, and the visions of my peers, invested in this week, were heard by people with microphones such as the Compassion Games International, the Shinnyo-en Foundation, and Peace One Day.