At around 10:15 Saturday morning, Old Campus residents trying to sleep in were awakened by the delighted shrieks of about 70 middle schoolers playing sharks and minnows prior to the opening ceremonies of the Peace by P.E.A.C.E. festival.
Peace by P.E.A.C.E., which stands for Peaceful Explorations in Active Conflict-Resolution Education, held its annual festival on April 6. The festival was the culminating event of the 13-session curriculum that Yale volunteers teach in middle schools in New Haven and Hamden, festival coordinator Kevin Lin ’04 said.
Coordinator Emily Yuhas ’04 said the festival’s goal was to reinforce the activities that Peace by P.E.A.C.E. has been teaching throughout the year, as well as to bring Yale students in close contact with the city’s middle school students.
The festival’s opening ceremonies featured Kamara Amaker, the assistant guidance counselor at New Haven’s Jackie Robinson Middle School. Amaker commended the middle school students for their leadership.
After the opening ceremonies, the students went to seven workshops, some sponsored by Yale groups such as Something Extra, the Purple Crayon, the Asian American Students Alliance and the Anti-Gravity Society. Yale a cappella group Shades performed two songs during the closing ceremonies.
Julia Anderson, who is in charge of peer mediation and special events at Sacred Heart Saint Peter’s School in New Haven, said two volunteers from Peace by P.E.A.C.E. come to her school every Tuesday.
“I think the program is a good program especially in the times we are experiencing in our country,” Anderson said. “Our children should know that they can become peacemakers.”
Helene Sapadin has a daughter in the sixth grade at Conte West Hills Magnet School who participated in Saturday’s events.
“I like the concept,” Sapadin said. “I think it’s really important that as many peace initiatives make it through the schools as possible because it’s the only way we’re going to straighten up the world. It’s great to do it through play.”
Julie Strasser ’05 said she hopes the kids are learning skills they will use later in life.
“I think they’ll listen to us because we are close enough to their age that they don’t think we’re talking nonsense,” Strasser said.
Kristi Jones ’05 has been involved with Peace by P.E.A.C.E. throughout the current academic year. In her workshop, the kids drew peace murals.
“I feel like the program is a really great opportunity for kids to interact with older students,” Jones said. “It gives kids a chance to do independent thinking about problems of conflict resolution.”
Yuhas said the festival was a huge success.
“The smiles on everyone’s faces spoke volumes,” Yuhas said.
Peace by P.E.A.C.E. started as the Peace Games program in 1989. It was created by Francelia Butler, a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut. The concept was introduced at Yale in 1993. Peace by P.E.A.C.E. programs now exist at Columbia University, the University of Toronto, Goucher University, Johns Hopkins University, and Emory University.