The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I spent one morning unable to concentrate on my work. I couldn’t believe the violence happening at Standing Rock. My heart was breaking for the people there, but I didn’t know what to do or how I could help…. Every time I hear or think about the possibility of people being deported or detained in detention centers, a similar sickening, sinking feeling knocks me off balance.
I keep trying to think and pray about what I can do to make a little difference. Perhaps sharing stories of hope is one of the things we can do to encourage and support each other in the continued work of peace and justice for all. So here is a little story of hope that I would like to share.
Last winter after hearing about some injustices that were occurring in my neighborhood, I had an opportunity to speak with the superintendent of the schools where I live. He was extremely open to ideas to continue to support the celebration of diversity. He connected me with other staff in the school system, and we began working on some small pieces of a diversity program that could be implemented this school year.
We have now been enacting this diversity program for six months. Each week of the month I share a story with classes in the early childhood education program. These stories encourage diversity and celebrate peacemaking and cooperation. I leave a fine motor and/or gross motor activity for the teachers to do with their classes to reinforce the story. Then a note goes home with the children, so their families can continue a conversation about the book at home if they’d like. In this first semester, we read Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin, Families by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt, and Winter Candle by Jeren Ashford. We started the second semester with Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. I’ve also done a similar program for Messy Church at Robert’s Park United Methodist where we read God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams.
If you are interested in the Growing Peace Program for your school, church, or community group, please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also a Facebook group you can join called Growing Peace Family Group where I try to post articles, blogs, and activities around Indianapolis that lift up interculturalism, peacemaking, advocacy, and the celebration of diversity.
About the Blogger:
A note from Sarah Haas..
The Desmond Tutu Center has given me hope. It has reminded me that many people are working for positive transformation in our local and global communities. I appreciate the DTC and its staff, so I was grateful to hear about the opportunity to be part of the DTC’s blogging team. As a person on a journey, I’m always thankful when I meet others who are willing to travel with me. My greatest hope is that I might be part of growing a little more peace and a little more compassion in the world. Each day I learn more about this from my family, friends, colleagues, community organizations, authors, and strangers. I look forward to learning from you as well.