Peace by Piece Slide Show

Friday, June 21, 2013

Reflections from Peace-by-Piece Summer Intern

My Summer Experience

                The few weeks of summer that I worked with AFSC has been beyond rewarding. I worked with kids at camps in the Desire community as well as in Gentilly.  Each day we met with them, we had a creative art activity for the children that was centered on the theme of “Dare to be you”. It was not only fun to create new art, but also to get to know new personalities along the way. The most memorable moments were definitely seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces and seeing how anxious they were to learn. This involvement with the kids really opened my eyes and heart, for which I am truly thankful for. It was a great experience in preparing me for a career in social work and family advocacy I plan on going into after college.
                                      - Antoinette

Check out some photos from some of our summer programs below:

Peace by Piece Intern Overview: Briana O'Neal

I have been with Peace by Piece from the beginning stages. Peace by Piece(PBP) is a nonviolence youth group made up of students ages 17-24. We formed this nonviolent youth group to help fight the problem of violence among youth in New Orleans. As a PBP youth leader, I have participated in violent acts before deciding to adopt a nonviolent lifestyle.

From the moment I was told that there would be another internship cycle I knew I had to be a part of it again. 

During this internship cycle, I have gained more self-worth through the workshops we have attended and the trainings we have taught. The first event we did was the Desire Park Day. I left the park feeling like I made a difference. I was also reminded of the chaotic surroundings these youth had to face every day. Despite these issues the youth were attentive and active in everything we did.  It felt good to see them listening to our list of peaceful tactics to deal with their anger and to see them apply these tactics to their lives. I enjoyed helping them make their peace t-shirts that they wore so proudly the rest of the day.

The Cultural Organizing Workshop was our first workshop of the cycle. The purpose of the Cultural Organizing Weekend in NOLA was to bring together various artists and organizers to discuss, share and teach different tools used in cultural organizing in our communities.

I love the fact that there was representation from the older generation and the younger generation in the same room and there wasn’t any conflict. We spent a lot of time talking about the way that our organizations used cultural organizing in our work and explaining the work that we have done so far. I felt there were a lot of stories that came up to show that there were many ways to use cultural organizing.

 I also liked how Breial and Austin, two AFSC interns, spoke on the cultural organizing discussion panel. I was also happy to see that the oldest lady in the room not only listened to them but she also took notes because she felt like she could learn from what a young person had to say.

Peace by Piece is always getting calls from all kinds of youth programs to get us to teach their youth about nonviolence. The Boys & Girls Club is one of those organizations that we have had the priviledge to work with.  It warmed my heart to know that the kids learned a lot and wanted to keep on learning about nonviolence with us.  Those kids were so smart that by the end of the day they knew what nonviolence was and ways to be nonviolent.

We ended our internship with an event that I had the honor of naming, ‘’Sampson Park Turnt Up.’’ The point of this event was to get kids to understand school closures and the “Stop -N- Frisk” laws by having them do fun activities that allowed them to personally understand that what is happening to them isn’t right. I believe that most of the kids picked up on the ideas that we were trying to spread to them. It shows that we’re making an impact on their lives and also making progress with getting communities involved in issues around them.

I feel that my fellow interns and I made an impact on the lives of the young people who attended our events, as well as, everyone who we came across during this internship cycle. I’m now happy to call all of the other interns my friends. I feel like The American Friends Service Committee is an organization that I could see myself working with for life because they believe in the worth of everyone. This means a lot to me because I’m coming from a society that devalues young black people.

Check out my powerpoint overview of this internship:


Peace by Piece Intern Overview: Asia-VInae Palmer

I used to wonder why I had to encounter difficult situations growing up. I tried to always see the bright light no matter how dark my circumstances were and I had a feeling that I was supposed to do something important one day. Growing up, I went through a lot, and know now that I’m involved in my community, I see how my own experiences are useful tools to relate to the kids I’m reaching out to. I know how powerful of an influence people made on me when I was younger when they simply said “I’ve been there.” Now I’m that person, and it feels wonderful!

I found out about The American Friends Service Committee through my old poetry coach. She sends emails about youth opportunities all the time so I was interested to see what this one was about. When I was reading the credentials I got excited because it was like the email was describing me! As an artist, poet, low key activist, and with a passion for youth, this was clearly the place for me. I came in to this organization expecting to be an expert just because I’ve done a few things around the city, but I had and still have a long way to go before I become an expert.

In these past few months with AFSC I’ve been on a learning overload and embracing this feeling of enlightenment. The first thing I learned was that this organization is not about non-violence, but nonviolence. The hyphen is what separates a person that choses to take non-violent paths from time to time between the person that lives a nonviolent lifestyle. Nonviolence was a tactic passed down from Martin Luther King Jr., who happens to be part of the inspiration of the organization, and of whose quotes are all around the office.  I would say that I’ve always been a fan of King, but until now, I didn’t know much about him besides the few paragraphs in history books and random repeated information on his birthday or during Black History Month. As the weeks progressed, I started to realize that I don’t know much about anything really. It also dawned on me that I haven’t been living up to my potential. The internship’s activities and assignments required us to become more socially aware, so I was learning more about the world around me and the injustices in that world; injustices I was oblivious to.

If someone would’ve asked me last year if I consider myself a cultural organizer, I’d probably say that I’m not sure exactly what they mean. I thought I knew what culture meant. My idea of culture was limited to race and music and food, but culture is everything around you. Culture is the houses in Treme, it’s the choice to wear black Chuck Tailor Converse, its language, and the way you eat dinner with your family. I learned that being a cultural organizer requires you to be able to use an aspect of culture to teach someone. The workshop was exhilarating. I had to step out of my comfort zone because there was a lot of singing and holding hands and sharing, but the way I saw it was, why not open up? What’s the worst that will happen? It was a giant circle; full of positive spirits all working towards uplifting our people.

 I also thought I had a very open mind. At least until the Undoing Racism workshop with The People’s Institute. The first thing they asked us to do was connect nine dots with four straight lines without lifting the pen from the page. It hit me that although I’m ahead of some people, I am still stuck in a box that I need to break out of in order to move forward. Since I grew up in a small southern town, I already knew about racial tension, but once again, I was reminded that I don’t know everything. I had no idea that I was taking part in my own oppression by continuing to unconsciously submit to the white race. Simple things like defending my white friends incase my black friends make them feel uncomfortable when black people have to feel uncomfortable every day of their lives, or being able to recognize white privilege where things I hadn’t even thought about.

Our events reminded me that although I have some experience with kids, I still have a lot more to learn and I have room to grow. I’ve gotten experience with teaching kids through my socially aware art presentations

Now that the internship is over, I already find myself still involved. I’ve kept in contact with different organizations we’ve worked with. The want to change the world has always been inside of me and now that I see other people passionate about the same thing I feel like taking advantage is a must. This internship was just the push I needed to begin applying myself. As I’ve been becoming more socially aware, I’ve been becoming more and more passionate about changing the injustices of my community and the world. The educational system, as we all know, it screwed up and although I understand that we’ve been trying to change it for years, it needs to be changed. It needs adjustment from the books to the teachers to the barbed wire around the fences. I didn’t even know that only schools in low income areas have barbed wire. I assumed they were everywhere. The sad thing is that they cage up who they want to cage up and liberate who they want to see liberated. I want to liberate my people. It hurts to see kids running around dirty, or reading with kids with low reading levels, or kids that are drowning from their environment. I understand that the world won’t change overnight, and I can’t do it alone, but through this internship I see that there are a lot of other people with the same overall goal and together we can change the world Peace By Piece.

Asia-Vinae Palmer

The digital story that I made about a community organizer that I admire:

My reflection on my digital story:

My powerpoint overview of this internship:

Peace by Piece Intern Overview: Breial Kennedy

Looking back over this semester, I feel accomplished. I’ve grown in many ways in terms of my character and my intent for my community. Through this internship I’ve gained a better understanding of the mission statement of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and some of its partnered institutions such as People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). Briefly, I’d like to discuss some of my thoughts and experiences.

Initially, walking into the office space was a lot different than I expected it to be. It was more of a culture shock than I could have ever thought it would have been. The other interns I’ve had the opportunity of working with have really made this experience much more enjoyable because they are so unique in what they bring the table. Ultimately, their willingness to share themselves with me helped me to truly bring myself in wholeness out into the community for our youth events; youth events that promote peace and nonviolence awareness.

Through several different trainings I think I’ve acquired a definition of what the terms nonviolence, cultural organizing, undoing racism, and community mean. Nonviolence, in my opinion, is remaining reasonable in even the most hostile situations. The ability to talk and think something through shows maturity. Secondly, cultural organizing, to me, is the way in which we engage and bring the community together using art techniques established by the culture of a specific or even a broader locality. Thirdly, undoing racism is the way in which we go about creating equal social and economic statuses. Finally, I’d describe a community as a group of people who are interdependent on one another.

In terms of AFSC, this internship has helped me on a more personal level in reference to a community issue that I have invested interest in. Being civically involved has put me in a position to analyze my community thoroughly and seek issues that need immediate attention. My community issue of choice is leadership. As I go out into the community as an AFSC intern disseminating important information about the principles of nonviolence, I witness some of the youth listen but at the same time I witness some youth that rebel and reject the information. Now, it didn’t disturb me at first because, naturally, not every person you speak to is going to be genuinely interested in what you’re saying. But it touched me once it appeared that the youth who were disrespectful and not really listening to me and my fellow interns had more of an influence on the other youth. So I realized that the community doesn’t lack leadership, it lacks positive leadership. If we could reach those youth who have the greatest influence on the community we could make a much greater impact on the community as a whole.
Check out my power point presentation detailing my intern experience: