The 2011/2012 Peace Exchange and Other Peaceful Art Projects

The Create Peace Project is a San Francisco-based non-profit that uses art and creative expression to help create more peaceful schools and give students a creative outlet and teach them peacebuilding skills.

For the third year in a row, The Create Peace Project is engaging in “The Peace Exchange”, a program that allows students from the US and Canada to exchange messages of peace with students in Ghana, Colombia, and Nepal. Students write notes and draw pictures on special post cards, and The Create Peace Project delivers the messages to partner students around the world and returns with messages from those students. Download a flyer!

From the Create Peace Project website:

“The Peace Exchange is about connection. Connecting students to themselves, their creativity, their wisdom, and their heart. Connecting students to each other, in their classrooms, in their schools, and across continents as we bridge cultural, religious, and racial boundaries to inspire and enrich the lives of all participants.

The Peace Exchange gives students a platform from which to raise their voice for peace, acknowledge and honor each other, express themselves through their art and with words with the intention that the power of being peaceful and sharing ones self with another can create a ripple of kindness, love, and possibility felt by young people around the world.”

This project is tailored toward students age 8-18, and can be integrated into a formal school setting on a class-by-class basis or through a school-wide assembly. Resources for both options are available from The Create Peace Project. The exchange allows students to participate in something national and international and creates the space for local and international dialogue about peace.

For smaller groups or informal settings The Create Peace Project has other art options available:

Banners for Peace is a collaborative painting workshop that promotes team building and collaboration through a 10-week workshop that works on the creation of a unique, giant piece of art that is later displayed in a communal area. Beyond building art skills and learning to work as a team, participants have a chance to design something that can inspire peace and create a space for peace dialogue. Download a Flyer!

For a shorter-term project or a more diverse group of participants, check out the Collaborate and Create workshop, a one-day activity that allows participants to bring together objects and art supplies to create a collection of art work through collaborative creative games and activities. One great thing about this project is that it can be tailored to include as more or less emphasis on emotional expression and community building depending on the venue or event.

These resources help to build community and nurture emotional intelligence, allowing participants to express their feelings and ideas in a safe and welcoming space and explore the meanings of peace in a community setting.

Get your school involved! Or for more information contact: info@createpeaceproject.org

Happy United Nations Day!

Tomorrow marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and a day that we take time to look at the work of this important organization and talk about its impact on the world.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2010: “UN Day is a day on which we resolve to do more. More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals.””

No matter what age group, or what subject matter, a discussion of one of the Millennium Development Goals, can be integrated into class today. Younger grades may enjoy learning about what education looks like in other parts of the world for kids like them. Science and health classes can tackle child health, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Economics, government/civics classes, and other social sciences may find global partnership and gender equity fitting themes for discussion. Some groups may want to find ways to live more sustainable lives or help end hunger. Find out how close we are to reaching these goals and what you/your students can do to help. Use a video/interactive media resource to add a new twist to your lesson!

Check out tomorrow’s ongoing events at the UN and promotional materials on the live webcast.

See how the UN is participating in New York City Public Schools and find examples of resources to use with high school students.

For a holiday themed addition, transform Halloween into a time to give back: check out Trick or Treat for UNICEF to learn about the campaign and see how you can incorporate donation boxes into your school or neighborhood’s celebration.

For other education resources from the UN to incorporate tomorrow and year-round check out the cyber school bus!

These resources and activities designed to recognize this day and this institution can help to build community by creating common goals for the class to work for and think about through class-wide, school-wide, or community-wide projects. A look at the UN can also help students explore approaches to peace by recognizing the physical, structural, and cultural violence that exists in the world, and highlighting the global community’s efforts to eradicate that violence.

A Force More Powerful

What started as a book and documentary project about non-violent protest in the 20th century has evolved into a series of films, lesson plans, and interactive computer games that help teach students about nonviolence and practice the skills to achieve it. The initial book and documentary project, A Force More Powerful, highlights some of the most influential nonviolent leaders and movements in the past century and the subsequent films, Bringing Down a Dictator, Confronting the Truth, and Orange Revolution, focus further on specific incidents where citizens used nonviolent action to enact change and restore justice after disaster. The computer game, People Power, sets participants in the shoes of a nonviolent leader and inspires them to change the status quo through nonviolent methods:

People Power is built on nonviolent strategies and tactics used successfully in conflicts around the world. The game simulates nonviolent struggles to win freedom and secure human rights against a variety of adversaries, including dictators, occupiers, corrupt regimes, and to achieve political and human rights for minorities and women. The game models real-world experience, allowing players to devise strategies, apply tactics and see the results.”

These resources are best used with students in High School/University settings. Between the difficult stories covered and the complex legal issues discussed, the subject matter is trickier to approach with younger students; however, it may be possible to adapt some of the stories about nonviolent activists to approach with younger grades. In my mind, there are two ways that this resource could be effective: either as an integrated part of a formal social science class (i.e. history, government, ethics, etc.), or as part of a workshop/training in a non-classroom setting. The videos could be used to make a “movie series” focusing on non-violence, which could be presented in classrooms or in a workshop setting, but in either situations, it would important to leave some time to discuss the movies after the viewing, both to make sure students understand the film, and to give them time to process what they’ve seen. In the event that there is the time/desire to do a more formal and long-term unit on nonviolence, the movies can be combined with the lesson plans provided, and students can play People Power. Incorporating these different multimedia approaches and adding an interactive element can help give students a deeper look into the lives of nonviolent activists and consider what nonviolence really means to them.

These resources embody two pillars of peace education: Reframing History and Transforming Conflict Nonviolently by teaching students about some of the most inspirational parts of modern world history, ones that are not often covered in traditional classes, and providing real-world examples of nonviolence in action that can be discussed, dissected, and followed.

Want to learn more about A Force More Powerful? Short on class time but still want to know what the movie is about? Check out the free study guide for an overview and ideas.