Vermont and New Hampshire’s Summer Peace Action Conference took place on the beautiful Dartmouth campus in Hanover, NH this year. Youth arrived to the grand community room of the Dartmouth United Church of Christ, where we were welcomed by the associate pastor Rob Grabil. This unique conference gathered both new and veteran Kids4Peace campers, so the first activity involved ice-breakers and name games. Our veterans Jewish faith advisor and Christian faith advisor, Judith Reichsman and Kelley Gage, were in attendance as well the VT/NH Director Jeff Mandell.
The entire weekend was filled with exercises, workshops, and activities that allowed our youth to build relationships and learn more about Christianity, Islam, Judaism. Throughout the weekend, we were joined by several special guests, including Dartmouth’s Rabbi Meir Goldstein, Dartmouth’s Muslim Advisor, Khalil Abdullah, Kids4Peace New Hampshire Committee Chair, Cindy Benson, and many more. Each of our guests introduced an exciting element of community. A few of our special guests shared personal stories of their upbringing in America and travels outside of the country.
Asad Akhlaqi, a Muslim from Afghanistan living in Vermont, talked about what it was like being selected as a teenager to come to the US to attend high school. After graduating, he attended college in Burlington and began a career working IT in schools. Asad’s wisdom about Islam was also welcomed, as students asked questions during the whole day he was here. Tracey Guion, an international explorer and peace worker, shared some stories about her time abroad. She presented her recent work in Rwanda, as well as a youth peace program she had been selected for that included teens from Armenia and Turkey.
Whether it was providing a space for question and answers regarding religious observations and services or storytelling sessions that allowed youth to learn more about the different cultures and lives that create communities in Vermont and New Hampshire, youth had an opportunity to be inspired to build community and take action for their communities.