We have only had 2 full weeks of school, and I’m already behind. I just got back from Los Angeles though, and it was definitely worth it! Three of my friends and me, plus Mr. Cook, went down to beautiful California for a PeaceJam conference, where, I must admit, it wasn’t all that beautiful. It was kind of smoggy and cool the whole time, but whatever.
PeaceJam is this organization that was started by a husband and wife whose goal was to connect Nobel Peace Prize laureates with youth around the world. A few years ago, the 7 laureates who participate in PeaceJam came up with the Global Call to Action: the challenge to start one billion, not million, but billion service projects to make the world a better place over the next ten years. We found out about PeaceJam earlier this year at a leadership conference in Minneapolis, and it looked interesting, so we joined. This year’s conference was supposed to be in Costa Rica but got changed to Los Angeles, so off we went.
The conference took place at Layola Marymount University out by the airport, which is a very nice university by the way. The campus is beautiful and the cafeteria has really good burritos. While there, we heard from the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Adolfo Perez-Esquivel, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, and Betty Williams (no, they aren’t related). It was amazing to hear their individual stories and what they have done to change the world, and more importantly, how they feel we can change the world. To oversimplify, they mostly spoke about non-violence and starting small – think locally. In addition, we got to see presentations from many schools across the USA, two others from Canada, and a few from the UK. A definite highlight was presenting our own project in front of many of these schools, and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu himself. He’s so cute!
I probably speak for myself when I say that my number one highlight from the conference wasn’t the conference at all, and no, we didn’t go shopping; much to our dismay. What we did do was go down to East LA and paint a mural at one of the high schools there. It wasn’t really that eventful, but it was still fun to see a different part of LA and do something good for the community, as opposed to just talking about it. At any rate, it was fun and rewarding for us (it was pretty!), and I think it brought some of the people out and together in the community. Obviously we met loads of nice people in LA, especially when we were split up into “family groups”. After all, there were something like 2000 people there. We were also treated to some beep-boxing (or is it beat-boxing) by an MC from the UK named Testament.
I could go on and on, but basically, it was a really fun and interesting trip. It really made us realize how much service/volunteer work we do at SMUS, and trust me, the Admissions officials didn’t tell me to say that. If you want to learn more about PeaceJam, visit www.peacejam.org. It’s a pretty decent site, in fact I’m there right now looking at the photos from LA. Now if you’ll excuse me, I HAVE to go fix the shuffle setting on my iTunes. I’m getting awfully tired of Soulja Boy…
April is a Grade 12 day student