Symbols of Peace
We have begun a tradition of starting with our youngest students, as they always astound us with their engagement, focus, and eagerness. While they have seen us on campus for years, this is their first time participating in CIH. One of our scholarship recipients is in class for the first time as well, and it brings great joy to watch his intense focus on each word that is spoken. While others drift at times, Angel’s attention never leaves us. He is meticulous in his drawings as well, and we learn later in the week his grades are very good and some of distinction.
John reads the story of Wangari, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, recognized for planting millions of trees in Kenya, bringing forests back to barren lands. The children gasp with joy as we open the mural filled with squares and drawing and symbols of Peace created by 2nd graders at St. Andrew’s School in Savannah, Georgia. The former PTA president stays with us for our lesson, shares of his own planting of trees, and takes delight in passing our colorful materials. The children quietly focus, heads close to their own squares, with their own unique messages and symbols of peace.
We move from youngest to oldest, and over 50 larger bodies are in this P6 room, raising the already warm temps. We are dripping sweat as we begin opening circle. This group has participated since they were young, so they quickly engage in our familiar opening circle and sharing. We have to nudge them a little more in the discussion, typical of teenagers everywhere, and share how prolific the responses were in P3.
We pass out letters with photos and peace signs from Vail Mountain School 6th graders. They stare at the enyakpo (beautiful) colors, designs and read the letters. There is a bit of a pause in the room, before instructing on the letter writing in return. Our team is surprised at the challenge some of them are having in the basic letter writing. Later in the evening, we will learn of one of the girls that comes from a tribe that doesn’t believe as much in education, but in labor. She has gone further than any other generation before, but John and Kelvin wonder about her ability to study and learn. This will be one of the many daily conversations about the needs of the children we are connecting with, and our growing support in providing education and assistance to those in need.
Sometimes the symbols are visible colorful representations, such as a peace sign, dove or heart. Other times, it is the invisible threads of friendship, begun in a kind gesture or a simple greeting- woezo (you are welcome), or dear friend…
We will capture many moments this week in photo and film, and there will also be countless seeds planted and threads connecting and bridging these children, while unseen, will add to the collective good and peace building happening cross-culturally.