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.BRIANA O’NEAL
Check out my powerpoint overview of this internship: