Meet the New Community Engagement Grant Recipients!

With On Earth Peace’s mission to develop and walk with leaders and communities who work for justice and peace, On Earth Peace has offered six Community Youth Engagement Grants to youth worldwide since 2020. Supporting youth-developed and youth-led projects, the Community Engagement Grant offers up to $500 in grant funding and guiding frameworks to support peace and justice-based projects to encourage community engagement, growth, and advocacy in youth and the creation of a beloved community. 

In Fall 2023, the Community Youth Engagement Grants were offered to two wonderful recipients: Mia Zeeman and the Borderless Relations Committee (BRC).

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Collaboration and Creativity: Kids As Peacemakers at Oakton Church of the Brethren

In November 2023, a group of children gathered at Oakton Church of the Brethren in Oakton, VA, wielding pencils and paintbrushes to create a mural and to define peace. Some of the kids were from the Oakton Partners in Learning (OPIL) program while the others were a part of the Children’s Church. Despite their different backgrounds, according to Tim Hollenberg-Duffey, co-pastor at Oakton Church of the Brethren, they “found common ground: a desire to learn.” Using On Earth Peace’s Kids as Peacemakers (KAP) curriculum, this small group developed a strong understanding of active nonviolence. The kids, utilizing their newfound peacemaking knowledge, drew a scale, depicting peace winning over violence. They wanted to show the importance of standing in unity with the vulnerable instead of getting caught up in violence. The mural embodied everything this group learned and symbolized their long-term commitment to bringing peace to their community and beyond.

Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey joined the Oakton Church of the Brethren in 2019 as co-pastors. They both graduated from Bridgewater College in 2011 and Bethany Theological Seminary in 2014 before taking their first pastorate in Hagerstown, MD. They have a unique approach of “harmonized ministry,” collaborating with one another and the entire congregation to create a lasting impact on their community. In the Fall of 2023, Tim and Audrey worked alongside Debbie Seidel, Director of Family Ministry and Coordinator of OPIL to develop a group of young peacemakers. Debbie joined Oakton in 2006 and has extensive experience in education, having worked in the Fairfax County Public Schools for 21 years, as an elementary school teacher for 14 years, and most recently, as a school librarian. She recognized that Fairfax County has a high level of academic competition, resulting in parents regularly paying for tutoring for their children. However, there are not many options for students that cannot pay for such services. Thus, Debbie developed a secular tutoring program for academic success, Oakton Partners in Learning (OPIL) with the help of the Brethren Faith in Action Grant, providing one-on-one tutoring and English language assistance for adults and children. The program utilizes trained tutors in a variety of subjects to “gives kids who can’t pay a chance to flourish,” according to Tim.  

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Celebrating Black History Month: White Supremacy vs. Black Excellence

"To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense."

-Nina Simone

I. Defining the Terms and Context

A. Definitions

According to Merriam-Webster, the term "black excellence" refers to a high level of achievement, success, or ability demonstrated by an individual Black person or by Black people in general while "white supremacy" is the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.

Unsung Heroes of Black Excellency

Gordon Parks

The photographer whose work documented race relations, poverty, civil rights, and urban life

Shirley Chisholm

The nursery school teacher who ran for president

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

The journalist who fought to bring the truth of the Black experience to light after the Civil War

 

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Intern Spotlight: Samhar Almomani

Samhar Almomani is On Earth Peace's Kingian Nonviolence Organizer and a senior public health student at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is originally from Jordan and grew up in the United Arab Emirates.  He's interested in addressing health disparities and ensuring equitable access to healthcare for everyone, and worked on addressing these health issues in his previous internships, including his work with the World Forgotten Children Foundation. Samhar also volunteers with Save The Water and the American Civil Liberties Union in PA. This call to service drew them towards pursuing a career in public health and getting an internship with OEP. Samhar plans on pursuing a graduate degree in health policy at George Washington University this fall and is looking forward to finding ways to use the Kingian Nonviolence toolbox to better communities' health. 

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Intern Spotlight: Emi Kawamura

Emi Kawamura is the Children and Youth Formation Organizer at OEP and a first-year student at Oberlin College in Ohio as a prospective Psychology major. She is an alumna of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Program, a scholarship from the U.S. State Department, which gave her the opportunity to live in Sofia, Bulgaria as a citizen diplomat last year. With a passion for working with children and diversity education, she received a Community Engagement Grant from OEP for the Borderless Relations Committee (BRC), a project she founded with two of her peers in 2020. A project that originated based on a reflection of her experience as a Japanese-American who struggled with accepting her identity due to a lack of conversation about differences and belonging in classrooms growing up, BRC conducted workshops with students in 3rd through 5th grade about accepting and identifying differences, celebrating differences within themselves and others, and how to be respectfully curious. She is immensely grateful for the OEP community and her experience as an intern.

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