October 30th, 2009
I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. – Helen Keller
This week the children were putting the pieces of their projects together, and in the process, creating an understanding that bringeth peace. We have a shared humanity on this earth, common threads in the vibrant tapestry that is being woven as favorite things are shared, and their paths become more connected. These children know, live and teach it. We believe- without doubt- that this generation will transform, reconnect and heal the earth for us all. All we have to do is put our attention with them, and attune to the messages they are calling out.
The projects this week- peace flags, peace puzzles, peace murals, peace games, necklaces, books of favorites, and messages of peace in letters. The Vail Mountain School peace flags now adorn the back of the electric green P4 classroom at EP Sokode Bagble, infusing their values and messages of peace as the wind blows. We facilitated a warm-up discussion about how we create peace with the leaders group at EP Primary. Their responses included cooperation, friendship, helping each other, by loving each other, respect one another, kindness, honesty, truthfulness, and working hard. They then exhibited this understanding while collaborating on putting the pieces of peace puzzles from St. Andrew’s School 3rd graders together. The P2 students’ sweet giggles filled the room as they viewed the photos of their friends at Holy Innocents’ that made their necklaces; Heart People still spread about the room from the last connection!
Hear their calls. Fred’s voice speaks, “The World Become One- One day the waters will dry to one side of the world and all the dry lands will become one and their will be peace all over the world… the world will become one.” Akpene says, “Remember, we are a circle, within a circle, with no beginning, and never ending.” James at Prince of Peace shares that this is also his favorite song. Esther shares her hopes, “We don’t want no war! No war! My wish is someday all the people that are bad will stop and they will make Peace on Earth.” Grace adds, “People come, lets unite. “
October 28th, 2009
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart. – Helen Keller
Woezo…You Are Welcome! Whether it is our first day in Ghana or 11th, greetings continue to be warmly and buoyantly passed on in the classrooms & schoolyards. As we continued to greet and provide introductions in our second week, the response is always the same- to varying octaves- but joyous. Nearly the entire school swarmed us during break at EP Primary in Sokode- Bagble. At RC Mixed and Girls Schools, the kids poured out of the classroom with a shrill that resembles teens greeting the latest boy band. The children in P3 at EP Primary in Ho greeting can only be compared to a team winning a game with a last minute goal, basket, or run! Jumping up and down, legs nearly in canon balls, groups jumping together, cheering… these are heartfelt moments which connect us all, spontaneous and unexpected, tagged by elated emotions which we will always remember.
We know that children, and all of us for that matter, learn and remember best when we are emotionally- with our hearts open- connected, engaged and invested. We invite you to open your hearts and feel the purity of what is being shared between these children. “Our school in Augusta, Georgia is so much fun; the best part is talking to you,” states CT Walker Magnet 2nd grader Michelle. Her classmate Jermiah shares, “I think we will be wonderful friends.” Alex, a 6th grader at Riverside Middle School comments, “I have to say you guys ROCK!” Akpene responds to Dayne at St. Andrew’s School, “ I will love to know you better.” Next to a drawing on a letter she adds- Love covers all things. Rejoice shares, “I love you. You are beautiful” with Jessica. Wisdom shares, “Extend my greetings to your family and I hope you are all fine.” Enyonam begins her letter to Regan, “I was so much excited when I read your letter. I may say this is the most happiest day in my life.”
We have hundreds of letters with these heartfelt salutations! We extend our gratitude and greetings to all of you in the U.S. participating and making this possible. We feel these are some of the most beautiful things in the world… and that these are truly, Children Inspiring Hope.
October 26th, 2009
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting by inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves. - C.G. Jung
Play! That was our theme last Fun Friday. We all played. We began with talking about favorite activities as outlined by Mrs. Ross’s 5th graders at Holy Innocent’s. We owe great thanks to the Summit Charter School class which shared such wonderfully illustrated books of games! We drew a chalk box in the room, used a mostly deflated ball, and played. Laughter filled the room as we learned together, and slowly more and more lined up to play. It was a morning we will not soon forget, and the joy will ring through the schoolyard for years to come as they play this new game- taught to them by a class in Cashiers, North Carolina.
The same EP Primary School yard will also be filled with the colorful Peace Pinwheels, adorned with messages of peace and friendship colored by the 3rd graders at Summit Charter School. As we started this class, the students burst into our theme song “With My Own Two Hands.” We concluded the day by giving the colorful necklaces from Mrs. Painter’s 2nd graders at CT Walker Magnet School to the P2 Class at RC Girls. Several of the children rushed up to us with hugs as we walked in the room, and they too enjoyed creating something new with the colorful paper and paperclips. Thank you all for this creative day of play.
October 24th, 2009
Hues of pink and purple soften the sky with coastal breezes passing through. A celebration gets under way in front of our hotel. In Ghana, this means a tent is set up in the street, 4 ft speakers are blasting music that can be heard for blocks and there is dancing, dancing, dancing. As people pass by, carrying buckets of water or maize on their heads and in their hands, nearly all pause and dance- a virtual stage of life before us. Children roam freely in small groups, dancing about and doing cartwheels in the streets. Joy abounds here, and it is contagious- I am smiling from my insides out. I share with our friend and volunteer Kelvin Abba how I love to see Ghanaians break into dance. He comments, “We are just moving our bodies to the rhythm.” Dise, another CIH Ghana Team Member laughingly comments this week- “I am happy, and if there is a word that means more than that, then I am that!” How beautiful and jubilant the rhythm is that we begin to weave into this week.
As we walked into each classroom, greeting nearly 400 children in our first few days, there were always several children that beamed with their entire bodies- stomping their feet, raising their arms in the air, rising out of their seats, and squealing with excitement! They know we have brought the goodwill, peace and friendship messages and projects from the children in North America. In our opening circles, as in America, each child calls their name and shares how they are feeling. There was not one child or teacher this week that expressed anything outside of happy, good, cool, proud, honored, joyful and excited! Not one.
When we inquired as to who remembered the name of this program, the first response that was shared was love. Other responses included unity, peace, happiness, and we are one. While these are not our name, we know that is what is being shared and created. We see it, but more importantly, we feel it… in our bones.
We have begun the connections this week with the following schools:
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, GA
St. Andrew’s School, Savannah, GA
Summit Charter School, Cashiers, NC
CT Walker Magnet School, Augusta, GA
Riverside Middle School, Augusta, GA
Ho-Bankoe EP Primary
Ho-Bankoe RC Mixed
Ho-Bankoe- RC Girls
Prince of Peace School
We know many of you have been anticipating our blogs. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work on being able to upload more stories and photos. We are now on Ghana time, and it has been raining every day, so it may take a bit longer than we hoped for. As they say in Ghana, we are coming.
October 16th, 2009
Do you remember when you were a child? Do you remember that feeling you had on Christmas Eve or Hanukah- that bounding energy that was hard to contain, filled with all the joy and excited anticipation for the next day and what the unexpected gifts would bring. Well, it has felt like that this week in our office- like Santa’s workshop with the arrival of projects from over 600 children!
Even more exciting, Christmas will come more than once during this school year. We are already working on the plans for a March 2010 trip. Volunteers and another professional filmmaker – Mike Beegle of Effection Media – are scheduled to go with us. As well, our website is under active construction, and should be up by Christmas.
Our logo is complete! Thank you Adam Peters! It is a Baobab tree-indigenous to Africa and one of the oldest trees on earth-with joyous children surrounding it. The Ghanaians have a saying, “It takes many people holding hands around the baobab to absorb the truth and wisdom.” The Baobab tree is also known as the tree of life, a place where community gathers, a guidepost for those that are lost, and is symbol of endurance, conservation, creativity, ingenuity and dialogue. Rather fitting we think!
Over 2,000 children will connect during this trip- we leave tomorrow! You can join us on this journey via our blog, or become a fan on FaceBook. The children have touched our hearts; we look forward to your hearts being touched by the same power and heartfelt difference this will make in so many lives.
We know you will agree, these truly are Children Inspiring Hope!
October 2nd, 2009
We got to observe the creative genius of children this week as they were expressing their messages of peace and friendship. This is just a sampling, and we believe the drawings speak for themselves. Their messages on the backs of the drawings included-reaching for peace; it is raining peace with flowers growing from working together and peace; when I think of my friends in Ghana I think of people working together; peace is bright and so are we. There will be many more messages we will continue to share as we pass them on soon in Ghana.
As the 5th grade students of Cliff Valley School left from an hour of peacefully collaborating together, Mrs. Kate Sidorski shared with them how inspired she was by their work. She wished them a continued peaceful day. We share her sentiments for all the classes as we have observed your peaceful and joyous nature; you have touched our hearts deeply and the ripples of your beauty is already making a difference in the world!
September 25th, 2009
We reached out across Georgia and into North Carolina on this week recognizing International Peace Day. As we reflect on the week, we were struck by the level of questions, compassion and noted how these students are fulfilling their school’s missions and values in their creations for Children Inspiring Hope.
On Tuesday, Cliff Valley School fifth graders shared their social development as global citizens in a greater caring community. Jennifer commented after viewing the video of her friends again that she wanted to go there and get to know them more. They were eager to begin their drawings to reconnect, which they began collaborating on together.
On Wednesday, I met with the most curious group of students to date- Mrs. Dimenstein’s 3rd graders at Holy Innocents’. As we were sharing some of the greetings in Ewe, the students starting pulling out paper and furiously taking notes. They exhibited a love for learning as they began imagining their new friends in the world community and their voracious curiosities with questions. I think they would have kept me half the day if they could have. They have given us some homework, and we look forward to getting those answers for them from their new friends in Ghana!
On Thursday afternoon, we were again greeted by the same curiosity in Ms. Rosenberg’s art class. We began and concluded the week with the World Peace Flame. Summit Charter School was in their Friday assembly round up, reminiscent of the outdoor morning assemblies in Ghana. Students performed a short play about one of their values- responsibility. We passed on the World Peace Flame and observed respect, responsibility, and giving as John held the flame and passed it on to his teacher.
There are ripples of peace and friendship being sent out to our global community. Thank you all for an amazing week!
September 23rd, 2009
These are two reflections shared by teachers on the impact they felt in their hearts as teachers and students paused for peace on Monday.
From Ozawaanimkeeqwe , Wasausking Nation, Canada
What an exciting day! Everyone so enjoyed the project, right from the kindergartens up to the grade 8′s. The peace flame lite our ceremonial fire and we offered our medicines and each us offered our prayers of peace and harmony throughout creation. Our big peace drum was talked about and how that relates to us as anishabe people and the love and respect we need to continue to offer and give each other and the kindness that will guide and keep us we walk this road in life. The candle sat upon our beautiful drum and the spirits sang up a song which was sent out by our young men. The girls protected that circle and sang a song of peace to all four directions. It was amazing to have the whole school surround the drum in two beautiful circles, from the smallest child in kindergarten to the oldest youth in grade 8. The staff too were just overwhelmed by ceremony and talked about it all day.
The students worked on a project in their classroom and each class so enjoyed having the candle in their room for part of the day. The spirit of this peace flame truly touched us all. I have enclosed some pictures but as you know we don’t take pictures of our ceremonies but, I feel a picture could never capture the moment and feeling of what transpired today. The girls hand drum group sent out a song too right before the minute of silence. It was so touching!
From Mrs. Jeanie Knight, St. Andrew’s School, Savannah, USA
I knew that this connection was something special- from the beginning. We have loved every minute of our connection with students in Ghana and our connection to you, and we look forward to a continued relationship with our friends. After you left, the children asked, “When will Amy be back?” ” How long will it be before we can work on our projects for the students in Ghana?” “What will be be doing to send to our new friends in Ghana?”
They asked about the peace flame – the expected questions about “Will we light the candle again?” ”How does the flame travel if it is not lit?” but they also asked, “Will we be able to light the flame
again when we need it for peace?” and “If they light the candle in Ghana, will we be able to know that they feel the same peace that we do?” WOW -what an impact!!! I am so glad that they see the “candles of peace” each day in each of the classes that they attend. Small steps – but also really big ones!!
September 21st, 2009
Across the globe today, millions will pause at noon for a moment of silence to recognize this day. World wide, organizations such as ours are facilitating activities to celebrate our capacity for goodness, cooperation, and the creative potential of humanity to construct a peaceful and sustainable future.
We will be passing on the World Peace Flame that came to us as the first projects for Children Inspiring Hope were being created. This flame burns continuously at Snowdonia National Park in Wales, and was created from Flames of Peace on the Worlds’ Continents, carried Olympic Style with each continent’s hopes for liberty, justice, peace and freedom.
We will update the days progress as we receive word of activities this week from the US, Canada and Ghana.
September 18th, 2009
We returned to the classrooms this week, and the heart of the project- the children and the hope they inspire. We asked each group- from 2nd graders to 8th graders- “When you think of Ghana/Africa, what is the first thing that comes to mind?” While many of the responses included the great challenges of Africa, and humanity, they also included all the things we know that connecting these children creates- peace, friendship, hope, unity, working hard, helping each other, smiling faces, happy kids, dancing, joy, wonder, rhythm, songs, and there was even hope.
Our first day of school was in Augusta, Georgia. Riverside Middle School has been involved since the first trip for Children Inspiring Hope. This year, they are including the entire 6th grade to connect with RC Mixed Primary in Ho, Ghana. A child that was part of the seed for this project, whom has not been connected since she was in kindergarten at CT Walker Magnet School, is now in the 4th grade and will be participating this year. Her innocence was expressed all those years ago in asking whether there were any brown people in Ghana. She then drew a picture for Prince of Peace students of children- white and brown- holding hands across the bottom of the paper, with a bright sun and message in the sky, “I lvoe you.” She is truly one of the children that inspired this project. She is as full of that light today as she was all those years ago. I knew we were in just the right new class when I saw the door for Mrs. Lockamy at Stevens Creek Elementary covered with children holding hands across the globe with the message- “Teaching The World, One Child At A Time.”
We completed the week in Savannah, Georgia at St. Andrew’s School, the Alma Mater for the Founder of Children Inspiring Hope, and Oglethorpe Charter School where her mother teaches. At St. Andrew’s School, many of the students shared they were eager to reconnect with their friend- EP students Lucy, Besie, Francis and Patience. As we discussed the upcoming International Day of Peace on Monday, an Oglethorpe Middle School student asked, “Why is it not Peace Day Everyday?” We couldn’t agree more full heartedly.
Thank you to the over 450 students, 33 educators and 3 volunteers who made this back to school week the most memorable yet!