Meet the Fall 2023 Community Engagement Grant Recipients: Borderless Relations Committee

(Pictured from left to right) Miki Kawamura, Daniel Jung, and Ekeria Iboaya reading to children at the Hancock County Children's Mentoring Connection. (Photo credits: Dr. Hiroaki Kawamura)


In Fall 2023, On Earth Peace awarded the Borderless Relation Committee (BRC) a Community Engagement Grant to support the youth-initiated project for peace and justice in Findlay, Ohio. Founded in 2022 by Christina Horn and current OEP interns, Emi Kawamura and Maree Iboaya, BRC’s mission is “to spread the word of diversity throughout our local community in hopes that the upcoming generation can celebrate diversity and people’s differences, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds with proper response,” according to current committee-member, Daniel Jung. Under the leadership of Ekeria Iboaya, Miki Kawamura, and Jung, BRC continues to thrive.

Today, BRC continues to pursue their mission. “My sister’s life changed with BRC,” said Kawamura. “And there were so many mysteries left unsolved.” Inspired by the efforts of the previous cohort and eager to make an impact on their community, the current BRC cohort added their own spin to the project. In previous years, BRC focused on racial inequalities and economic disparities. This year, BRC is educating elementary students about various cultures; they recently focused on Nigeria and Ireland, reading books, eating snacks, and playing games to help students learn about and appreciate these cultures. “They make these connections and think, how can I apply this to my life?” Iboaya reflected.

BRC works with students at local elementary schools and their public library; these public events have received significant community support, drawing crowds of approximately 20 students. For BRC, this year’s goal is to increase the number of public program participants and returning students as well as create a lasting impact on the students they meet. “We want our kids to recognize the word diversity,” Kawamura explained. “We ask kids if they know what it means to have good differences, and only a few can connect that to diversity.” As kids return to these programs and learn more and more about different cultures, they better develop their understanding of diversity and cultural appreciation.

BRC on their trip to Hamtramck, Michigran. (Photo credits: Dr. Hiroaki Kawamura).

BRC’s experience with OEP helped them to grow their program and their personal networks. “The Community Engagement Grant allows us to help children indulge more in the cultures we discuss, such as making crafts related to the cultures or providing food from those cultures to hopefully allow the children to feel more immersed in what they learn at the events we have,” described Jung. The Community Engagement Grant also enabled BRC to connect with several activists who provided the group with advice and inspiration for their project. For example, the group met with Kingian Nonviolence trainer and organizer for Arizona low-income tenants, Hassan Clement from the Nonviolence Legacy Program and and Jonathan (G.L.O.B.E.) Lewis, Director of Youth Training at Nonviolent Schools Rhode Island. BRC also took a group trip to Hamtramck, Michigan, the only Muslim-majority city in the US, where they met with American Baptist peace activists, visited the Hamtramck Zen Center, a mosque, and talked with a retired foreign service officer. “I have gained so many benefits from BRC, such as learning the importance of grassroots organizations in creating a healthier political society and more affluent life,” Kawamura explained.

This year’s BRC cohort is also learning more about their personal goals from their work. Iboaya intends to become a medical lawyer, focusing specifically on the impact of medical malpractice on People of Color (POC); Kawamura is pursuing a career in Foreign Service; and Jung plans to become a pediatrician. Their experience, working with children and exploring topics of diversity and culture, will aid this group of students in their long-term plans.

With their creativity and initiative, Findlay’s BRC is making an impact on and creating a bright future for their community. “There’s no way it could happen without having such a supportive community,” Iboaya stated. Dr. Hiroaki Kawamura, advisor of BRC, commended the students involved, stating, “When we try to change society and when the moment comes, we have to act decisively. That is when we are tested. These young people will be ready.” With their notable efforts and successes, the members of BRC will undoubtedly inspire the youth in their community to embrace diversity and cultural differences one book, one game, and one snack at a time.  

Want to learn more about OEP's Community Engagement Grant? Contact Emi Kawamura, Children & Youth Peace Formation Organizer at [email protected] and read about it here.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Join our community Attend our next event Donate Now