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Kids 4 Peace Gives Tools to be Agents of Change

by Jack Fechter

On Sunday, February 24, St. Barnabas celebrated Cultural Encounter Sunday. During the service, we heard speakers from the Cincinnati chapter of Kids 4 Peace, including Jack Fechter from St. Barnabas. This is his talk.

Adam Hayden, Chapter Coordinator, Kids 4 Peace–Cincinnati

August 1, 2018

I was in the car with two of my other friends who were going to camp with me. My dad was driving us there and he was, if not already, starting to get sick of us. We were driving through the woods of North Carolina to Camp Blue Star. Honestly, I was neither excited nor nervous. I was just going to a camp.

Camp Blue Star was a very large camp. Towards the entrance, there was a large lake with all sorts of fun things. There were also the necessities like a dining hall and cabins. But because of how large camp was, it opened up many possibilities for many different activities.

When we got to camp, it was very empty. The only people who were already there were most of the staff and my cousin who had also driven with his family there. As I said bye to my dad, I wasn’t really nervous. I felt like I should’ve been, but I wasn’t. Soon enough, the other American kids had arrived, half from Boston, the other half from Seattle. We somewhat bonded with the other American kids, but it was only the first day. They told us that the kids from Jerusalem would come at around 2:00 in the morning. The counselors talked to us briefly about the conflict before they arrived. We then did other activities and went to bed. Little did I know that at 2:00 a.m. on August 2, the camp would truly begin.

I remember it vividly when it happened. In the cabin, it was just two kids from Boston, my cousin and myself. I remember that I woke up to the Jerusalem kids walking in and talking with each other. I was pretending to be asleep, but in reality I was watching them tiredly. Their counselors were telling them to be quiet but most of them didn’t listen. I couldn’t see any of them well. And then, I went back to sleep.

We didn’t really meet the Jerusalem kids until the middle of the day because they woke up later than us. At camp, they organized us into small groups mixed with American, Israeli, and Palestinian kids. Through these groups, we bonded with the Israeli and Palestinian kids. I also met Qusay who was a Palestinian kid through the small groups, and we bonded very quickly. My other friends at camp and I thought he was funny. We still talk occasionally too. I also bonded with other kids, mostly the ones in my cabin. In my cabin, there weren’t any Israeli boys. They were all Palestinian. This didn’t mean I didn’t bond with any Israeli kids. I decided to go to the Havdalah or the closing of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. Another reason that I bonded with the kids was because we had common interests, like we liked and knew the same movies, video games, music, and celebrities. This just amazed me of how influential American pop culture is on the rest of the world.

While at camp, my favorite thing was the electives. They were a lot of fun and they really helped me meet other kids. My favorite electives where the Fishing, Nature, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I will talk about later. I enjoyed the fishing because not only do I love fishing but it was also a chance for me to have a quiet and relaxing environment, which was not something you get a lot at camp. I enjoyed the Nature because I enjoy animals and wildlife but also because I liked the man who ran the elective. He was maybe in his 60s but he was a character. He taught us all about the environment at and around camp. We even got to walk alpacas!

A youth speaker from Kids 4 Peace

But the most important part I thought was the day that we talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was really the only time that I got to really learn about the conflict from people who actually live in that area. Both the Israeli and Palestinian kids saw the conflict and they agreed with each other but they just had different viewpoints. For example, the Palestinian kids talked about how the Israeli government is oppressing them and went into detail like how they have to pay higher taxes and are constantly checked at checkpoints. While the Israeli kids said that the government is oppressing the Arabs/Palestinians but not to the extent that the Palestinians said they were. I believed this to be interesting because it shows how based on your social status, location, and society, your viewpoint on something can be different.

I feel like this showed me how people can see the same thing in a completely different way.

In conclusion, I learned at camp that as people, we are more alike than not alike when it comes to political views, pop culture, etc. It also made me wonder more what the other side thinks or believes when a discussion or issue is brought up. I think this is important because to make a change in the world, you need to understand where the other side is coming from on an issue. And once you understand, you can come to a conclusion on how to work together to solve that problem.

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