FOR launches Young, Pacifist & Proud
This weekend, February 15 - 18, 2013, thirteen youth from across the nation will bring their vision, enthusiasm, skills, and stories to the first gathering of Young Pacifist and Proud – A Radical Interfaith Revisioning of the World. Young , Pacifist & Proud (YPP) is a FOR initiative lead by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Shauen Pearce, Aisha Nawab, and Marie Benner-Rhodes that will bring young people together to strengthen nonviolent, multi-faith, multi-cultural, and arts of resistance organizing. Together, the youth and facilitators will learn about the challenges and opportunities occurring in spiritual and faith-based communities working for economic, racial, gender, and environmental justice, and consider how to partner with each other in the creation of a better world.
FOR believes that our strongest resource for resisting and dismantling US militarism, climate change, and other forms of systemic violence is our youth. Our future rests with the creativity, wisdom, and passion of young activist organizers. YPP will provide an opportunity for young people from a wide range of communities to gather in a supportive environment that encourages creative collaboration and honors communal and faith-based resources.
The first of many YPP gatherings planned for the coming year will take place at FOR’s national headquarters in Nyack, NY. We are delighted to introduce the amazing YPP pioneers:
I’m Saif Alsaegh, and I was born and raised in Baghdad. I currently live in Montana, studying at a small private school called the University of Great Falls. I’m a writer. I write a lot of things but mostly poetry. I’m looking forward to share my poetry with you guys.
Hi everyone. My name is Fariha Beig, and I am a high school senior. I am a student journalist for the Paly Voice who enjoys being involved in my community. I have participated in Camp Everytown, the Mosaic Project, Break Through the Static, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and American Muslim Voice. Currently, I am exploring my multiple career fields which range from education to healthcare to journalism. Follow me on Twitter: @FarihaBeig.
Assalamu Alaikum. My name is Israa Beig and I am a high school student who loves to travel. Also, I am a member of American Muslim Voice (AMV) along with both of my sisters, Fariha and Yusra. I love watching movies and finding new adventures to try as well as reading books.
Hi, my name is Yusra Beig. I am one child of five and I am also a triplet. My sisters and my birthday is on December 24. I am a senior at Palo Alto High School. I love traveling, meeting new people, and learning about their new cultures and food! :)
Facilitator - Hello! My name is Marie Benner-Rhoades. I am youth and young adult peace formation director at On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren. I live in the Finger Lakes of New York where my husband and I are starting an organic vegetable farm- One Plow Farm. I attend a local Friends (Quaker) Meeting, yet I remain a member of the Church of the Brethren- my religious home.
Hi all! My name is Hasan Bhatti and I currently live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I attended Colby College where I studied Anthropology and served a year in New York with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Since AVODAH, I have become more involved with interfaith and intercultural education that spurs from my Anthropology degree, my own multiracial (half Pakistani half American) and interfaith (Muslim/Jewish) background, and my experiences teaching. Currently I work as a dialogue facilitator on Israel within the Jewish community, a camp counselor at an intensive interfaith intercultural camp for teenagers in conflict zones (Face to Face/Faith to Faith), and an AVID tutor working with underprivileged students in the Chapel Hill area. When I’m not organizing and teaching, I love to rock climb, play ultimate frisbee, write, and spend some time kicking back to explore and take part in what people enjoy out of life. I’m excited to spend the weekend with you all and to work together to inspire peaceful change in the world to come!
Hello I am Eric Brown.(no picture) I am concerned with the criminalization of race identity. I’m a Graduate of American Baptist College & Vanderbilt University. I am an ethicist, community organizer, a black popular culture lover and critic, and a minister.
Shakya Cherry-Donaldson, was born and raised in New York City. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and African Studies from Franklin and Marshall College and a Master’s degree in Global Political Economy from the University of Sydney. Shakya is an educator, community organizer and activist who is currently working for the Children’s Defense Fund in Nashville, TN around Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.
My name is Wardah Chowdhry, American Muslim and immigrant from Pakistan. I am youth director of American Muslim Voice and a senior in Palo Alto High School. I love to help people and meet new people. I am youngest of 4 siblings. :)
My name is Maggie Goff, I am a Junior at Manhattanville College in Westchester New York majoring in Youth Advocacy with a minor in History. I am young, pacifist, and proud. I work with groups on my college campus and local organizations to address issues of racism gender violence, police brutality, LGBTQ issues, and Palestine Solidarity. I believe in the power of nonviolence to heal each other, empower the oppressed, and transform conflict. When I’m not in class, at work, or organizing; I enjoy reading, spending time with my favorite people, and being outside.
Hi! My name is Sarah Goldberg and I’m 19 years old. I’m a sophomore studying at SUNY New Paltz for Creative Writing, although I have participated in art and photography shows in the past. I consider myself a Buddhist, but I am also accepting of all religions and sexuality. I am very excited for the retreat!
Facilit ator - Shalom Salaam. My name is Lynn Gottlieb, and I’m a rabbi and peace activist who loves playing the drum. I’ve been a member of The Fellowship of Reconciliation since my early 20’s. I love traveling to the Middle East where I’m involved in mural arts projects. My son Nataniel is an inspiration to me!
Hello, I am Kay Guyer residing from the small town of Woodbury, PA where the cows outnumber the people ten to one. I am in my final semester at Manchester University in Indiana where I study Peace Studies and Art. I enjoy bringing creativity into the struggle for social change whether it be through community organizing or painting. I have roots in the Church of the Brethren while more recently working to listen to the leadings of my own spirit. I am very much looking forward to our time together!
Facilitator - Hi my name is Aisha Nawab and I am a Chicago native for the past 35 years. Last summer I took part in my first interfaith experience and have not been the same since. It really helped bring awareness to who I am, why I believe in the decisions I make and how that impacts others. I am really looking forward to spending time with a group of folks who are conscious and passionate about bringing about positive social change.
Facilitator - Hello, my name is Shauen Pearce. I’m a conscientious objector with a background in youth justice work, nonviolence training, popular education, and spiritually-grounded organizing. As a native of Chicago, I have first line experience living in the intersections of racism, economic injustice, violence, and war. Stemming from a place filled with beauty, progress, rebellion, wise elders, visionary leaders, and constant struggle marked by corruption, violence, and displacement, I continue the fight for justice, self-determination, authentic love, and fearless community building. I currently serve as FOR’s director of Social, Economic, and Racial Justice programs and live in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota.
Hello, my name is Samah Shada and I’m a 22 year old woman from Iraq. I am currently a third year international student at Grinnell college with a Political Science major. I am here through the Iraqi Student Project. I grew up in Baghdad and I also lived in Syria for 8 months before coming to the US. Being an Iraqi Christian has played a role in my interest in interfaith dialogue and Social Justice. My experience with activism has been influenced by my cultural background. I was a participant in Farm the Land Grow the Spirit and the Art of Resistance internships (Both in Stony Point, NY) in which I discovered my personal definitions of activism and social justice. I am really looking forward to meet other people from different backgrounds and religions and learn more about their experiences with social justice.
My name is Jonathan Ulrich. I feel most alive when I’m a member of a community that is working concretely for social justice. Following graduation I intend to enter a period of wandering in which I will volunteer at and visit intentional communities, wwoofing locations and helpx sites. Through the experience I hope to learn practical skills, to learn models of community-living, and to discern a calling for myself within the context of peace activism and organizing. My dream is to become proficient at bread baking, eco-friendly farming, bicycle repair, welding, and outdoor survival skills. I have a special love for backpacking.
Facilitator - Hello, my name is Leila Zand and I’m from Iran. Since immigrating to the United States with my husband and twin daughters in 2000, I’ve shared my experience of growing up in the midst of war in academic settings, peace rallies, and community gatherings. I’ve written numerous articles and essays, some of which have been translated into other languages and received international publication. Through writing and public speaking, I try to raise awareness about U.S. militarization in the Middle East and the impact it has on the lives of ordinary people, and strive to make inroads to reconciliation. As the organizer of FOR civilian diplomacy delegations to the Middle East, I help to create bridges of understanding between the diverse peoples of the region and the people of the United States.