Friday, March 28, 2014

Intern Reflections

Isaiah Jones

Back at it again, i returned to Sampson park for another after such a long time away. This time it was called Sampson Park OR NAH and had a somewhat new-ish flock of little peoples coming around to engage with the activities. However, other than that the park itself looked essentially how i remembered it which is both comforting and disheartening at the same time because it would be wonderful if the folks of the Desire area had a better park area to interact with each other in.

            The activities that we chose were a good time especially the shirts which flew off the table into hands as if they had been given life themselves. This and other things including the Mardi Gras Indian parade made the day a swirl of bodies and colors in our section of the park-- lovely since the weather was doing its sometimes sunny, but mostly cloudy routine. As for my activity, well i would like to say that i felt like it was okay. However, in all honesty i wish i would have been more creative in my approach and the activities chosen for the youth to engage in. I found myself getting caught up in the examples and only later on finding more energetic options such as running to the other side of the park and back.

            It is certainly a truth to be told that even after having a good bit of experiences being in front of people and in a variety of ways interacting with people from all over the age spectrum that getting in front of young folk is difficult. Perhaps it’s a greater sense of awareness that you are having an impact on their minds or maybe it’s just general anxieties that could pop up anywhere. Whatever it is I still haven’t figured it out yet though i think it would be greatly beneficial if i could find that solution sooner rather than later.

            As it currently stands I am ever more determined to make a better activity and continue this learning process to becoming a stronger and flexible organizer in the greater New Orleans area, a city that someday soon i hope to make my home in more ways than just being a student living on campus.


Breial M. Kennedy

To whom it may inspire,

Since my first semester with AFSC, spring 2013, I’ve gone through a number of workshops and trainings. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to both host and participate in life changing events. I’ve also had the privilege of working with a diverse group of level headed people trying to reach a common goal, nonviolence. Because of AFSC, I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and my community.

Recently, I participated in an “Undoing Racism” workshop at Tulane University and it really put the spotlight on some of the most challenging issues we face in our communities daily: racism, discrimination, and violence. Throughout this internship I am constantly reminded of the importance of having an education, a plan, and a support system.  As an intern, I’ve learned that it is my civic duty to inform my community of their rights as human beings and to also let them know that they have friends and support in us, AFSC.

                I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in peace- building and conflict resolution to contact our organization and partner with us in making necessary adjustments in New Orleans and surrounding areas. It is imperative that we break cycles of violence in our communities starting with our youth. The youth are our future and it is up to us to mold what our societies of tomorrow will look like.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet Our 2014 Spring Interns

My name is April Stewart.  I am 21 years old and I have a 6th month old daughter. I can sing, act, dance, and draw. I currently attend Blue Cliff College to become a clinical medical assistant. I am in a youth group called Fyre Youth Squad. I joined AFSC because I was in Peace by Piece before and I would like to continue learning all the ways I can create peace in my community and my life.

 My name is Glenn Sullivan and I am 18 years old. I am originally from New Orleans East. I have a few years of performing and recording experience both in and out of Louisiana. I am also very interested in music, history, and business. I am currently in the 12th grade, and have plans to go to college while working to create and own 2 businesses.

My name is Maurice Dexter Deandre Hammond. I am 24 years old and I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana. I’m an artist, poet, rapper, singer and songwriter. I’ve performed with Rebirth and the New Orleans Mystics. I would like to get my Associates Degree in Business Administration. I would ultimately like to become an international recording artist and entrepreneur.

My name is Brandon Bigard, I’m a twenty year old Aries, I have a passion for the arts and a stubborn protective streak for her city ever since she was little. Running around in the advocacy world for over a decade and coming from a family deeply rooted in the arts, New Orleans, and the history that it contains. This young woman has tricks up her sleeve like the secrets contained in the streets she walks. I am currently an intern for AFSC, once again jumping back into the fray of learning, teaching, showing, and protecting the path for the perfect life.

 My name is Isaiah Jones and I’m here for my third go as a Peace by Piece Intern. I am a soon to be graduating Political Science major with a dual concentration in Women’s' Studies and Communications Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. During my past times participating in this internship i learned a lot of valuable lessons about myself and the world that we live in so i look forward to what this round will bring. I'm still working for that 4.0 in life and hopefully will soon be engaging with graduate schools and job opportunities that will propel me even further into ever more interesting situations and connection with the community.

 Hi All!  My name is Breial Kennedy and I am currently a freshman at Dillard University. A couple things to know about me are I am a very compatible person, my favorite color is green, and I’m actually a returning intern from the spring 2013 semester.
Hey my name is Donald Mitchell. I’m a student, a son, and a brother. I’m independent and I’m striving for success in New Orleans, LA. Come follow me as I turn my struggles into my success.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Inside Look at FOF in B-More
Briana O'Neal
I recently attended a Friend of a Friend (FOF) experience, a mentorship training project that operates inside of the criminal justice system in Maryland.  Friend of a Friend is a program of the AFSC office in Baltimore, MD.  My experience in B-More was very enlightening.  The training teaches how to build healthy relationships, create support, develop communication skills, and teach positive ways to handle conflict.

Participants work with mentors on their attitudes, strengths, weaknesses, and values. It’s important that the men leading this program have been through the criminal justice system and share similar experiences.  This helps them relate and connect to the new participants. They use interactive games, skits, and scenarios that cover real life situations. My favorites include: Mentor Money, an icebreaker that allows people to introduce themselves to each other; We Wear the Mask, an activity that acknowledges we all have mask that we hide behind to make life a little easier to deal with but we must not lose the real us behind the mask; and The Debate Game, participants debate on a topic and see who wins. Before we left we was asked, “Where do we go from here?”

I feel B-More, NOLA, and New Mexico has a lot in common.  We’re working on some of the same issues to change our communities.  It makes sense that we work together.  I think it would be great if we all could go to each other’s cities and attend trainings on what we do, how we do it, and what are the outcomes. We can help each other reach our goals of ending violence if we have multiple strategies and many people. There is strength and power in numbers.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My name is Austin smith this is my second year returning as an AFSC intern. I've become more invested in our work this year and I have grown as a person throughout this new semester. I intended to use my new found knowledge and apply it to real life and that's what I did. If you asked me,“ what was one thing that I learned here this year?” I would tell you that I learned taking action to change the use of violence and oppression in society is important because it will have an ever lasting effect.
Just like it has many years before us. I've grown to realize if you get involved in situations because you haven't personally dealt with it, doesn't mean it doesn't effect what goes on around you. I really started expressing myself and to became more observant.
At first I didn't agree with being nonviolent myself but the idea of it is great. I just figured with the society I live in, you can't be nonviolent. It was just the way it was, and I didn't see anything wrong with that.
Then I realized that is the reason why this work is important.
If we continue to just let it slide and go with the idea that society works in that way, we would never do anything to change it. I feel though that I’m working better with achieving the goal of being a nonviolent peace leader. We've dealt with issues promoting nonviolence and increasing the peace within communities. and helping them be aware of what’s going on. We’ve been doing many events and through each event I’ve found that my opinion does matter, no matter how much I think it doesn't.
My name is Jerrica, and I am a Haitian woman. I speak 3 different languages (French, Creole, and English). I am an undergraduate student in New Orleans, and I will be graduating this semester with a bachelor degree.I am involve a lot in school. I am a UNO Ambassador Leader, which is student who work with the school president; I am in Phi Alpha Delta organization, which is student who are pre-law and planning to go to law school one day, I am Pi Sigma Alpha, which is a political science honor society, and the list goes on. After I graduate this December, I am going to get ready for law school. As for my personality, I am easy going and a positive person. I am very ambitious,smart, focus,anxious, bossy, dependable, critical, and goofy. Most of the time, I study a lot, read political books and articles, and do research on my career. I work hard and play less. I am a very busy person, but when I do have free time, I listen to some R&B songs, write poetry, go to a theater to watch a movie, or play with my siblings. On Sundays I teach a class full of 40 children from 1 year old to 13 year old, and I am also the President of the Children Department of the Sunday School at my church.

My name is Kendall D. Santacruze and I am an intern at American Friends Service Committee in New Orleans. I’m a singer, rapper, an outstanding dancer, and a well rounded individual. I do my very best to critique and perfect my talents. I have performed all over for some of the biggest events in New Orleans to college events in Florida and Washington D.C. around the White House. I am now in the midst of performing with several different dance crews, two music groups. I learned so much from AFSC.  I learned how to do more efficient computer work, how to MC an event and how to build a great resume. I feel ready to take on the issues hurting my community with the knowledge that AFSC has taught me. I’m looking forward to doing the internship again.


Transforming Oppression: 

The Third Annual Youth Fashion Show

The New Orleans Peace Building and Conflict Transformation Project recently hosted its Third Annual Transforming Oppression Fashion Show Saturday, November 26, 2013 at Christian Unity Church.  This year’s show included twelve models and performances by seven local youth artist acts.  Staff and interns chose three themes for this year’s show:  Vortex of Violence, Lost Generation and Living Wage. 

Traditionally, Peace by Piece has invited youth and young adults to participate in the Fashion Show by issuing them white t-shirts and asking participants to transform the shirt to tell a story about how social issues such as violence, poverty and poor education (to name a few) impact their lives.  The white tee, to which it is often referred, is a clothing item that is targeted by authority figures because of its popularity among young African Americans who don the casual apparel as a simple fashion statement. 

Designers adorned their shirts with illustrations reflective of this year’s themes.  Models wanted to use their designs to demonstrate the connection between poverty, violence and the untimely deaths of their peers.  Participants attended a workshop where they got a crash course in the definition of oppression and the manifestations thereof.  They also did visioning where they imagined translating their experiences w/violence, loss of young lives and lack of employment opportunities into rhetorical images to be displayed on white tees and hoodies for the show.

This year hoodies were added to the Fashion Show line-up.  The same concept applied; transform the hoodies to tell stories of injustice and oppression.  The hoody is another wardrobe feature made popular by a certain race, class and age demographic and a symbol of how vulnerable to bigotry one becomes when wearing it.  The term “hoody” has been propelled into the American English lexicon as a result of the death of Trayvon Martin.  New Orleans, like many major cities, has its own catalog of victims whose young lives have been lost to violence.  Hoodies and white tees are emblematic of the profiling and violence consistently encountered by the Black community, particularly Black youth.  The show raises audience awareness of such violence and allows young people to creatively frame their stories using fashion and art.  

The Fashion Show has become a staple of the New Orleans Peace Building and Conflict Transformation Project.  The program is preparing to leverage the event to have an even greater impact on crime in the city.  AFSC New Orleans wants to see a reduction in the murder rate and will continue to build programming that addresses the extraordinary levels of crime that consume youth culture.  In 2014, Peace by Piece will produce an anecdotal log that chronicles the murders of people ages 0-24.  The log will be used as a tool to raise awareness and engage youth, families, activists, school and city officials in solution-based dialogue that addresses and presents alternatives to violence.  Peace by Piece will continue to produce its annual fashion show to give young people a platform to design their own freedom one young person at a time.