Youth Action Hudson had the privilege of attending PeaceJam on Saturday, April 27 at North Community High School in North Minneapolis. Three of our youth, Marina, Alyssa and Alayna attended the day's events. Our day was filled with bright, sunny feelings of hopefulness and inspiration. Two of the youth that attending the even on Saturday wrote a testament of their experience at PeaceJam. Their testaments are beautifully written and you can read more about Leymah and our PeaceJam group under YAH programming on our website.
Listening to Leymah Gbowee speak at the 2013 Peace Jam event is something I will easily remember for the rest of my life. I wasn't really sure what to expect before arriving in Minneapolis; but, whatever I thought it would be like, didn't resemble the reality of it all.
Upon arriving I immediately felt out of my element. I have experienced this “out of element” feeling in the pit of my stomach before; but, generally that feeling was always expected, this time it wasn’t. Regardless of my out of sorts emotions I still was welcomed by a lot of bright smiling faces and cheerful young people which shed a light on what walk of the life I or the person sitting across the room from me came from. It wasn't until later that I realized these feelings are why I participate in events like Peace Jam; so, that I can become a less narrow and more accepting human being. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has the same view of the world as you but it’s almost beautiful how someone who has never even met you can say I accept you even though I know that our lives are so different.
Leymah Gbowee’s speech touched on things like self-esteem, forgiveness, and the overall idea of taking actions
of peace instead of violence to resolve conflict. I was just blown away by the way she communicated to the audience because when she spoke It seemed so personal like it was just me and her, and she was there to answer all of the hard questions that I had about my life. In the middle of her speech I choked up
a little because I always felt alone in the obstacles of my life and it was such a relief to know that I wasn't alone.
In the days following the PeaceJam event with Youth Action Hudson I often found myself thinking about Leymah and the impression that she made on me and I keep trying to put my experience into words; but, I came to the conclusion that I really am just speechless, even still. I think that I will often visit this memory for guidance and inspiration because it was chalk full of strength and wisdom.
By Alayna Tackaberry
"My overall experience at PeaceJam was amazing. Listening to the speech by Leymah Gbowee and to questions being asked really stuck with me. The speech touched me AND I felt like I could relate so much. Also family groups was so fun and a new experience. I felt like we were an actual family because we got along so well and by the end of the day on Saturday we could talk about anything to each other! The walk to the park was something new to me. Thinking about friends, family and those who have had to suffer through tough times and step things up got to me. After the day ended on Saturday I looked at things differently and that I want to change things up. I want to change how I react to people, how I look at my life and how to create more peace in the world."
By Alyssa Leigh Iverson