We’re following up on our last blog where we met Zaire of the Play for Peace Chicago Goode Club. Didn’t get the chance to check it out? That’s alright! Read more about that update here. The following update was written by our Global Operations Manager, Yasmin Hussain.
Now we’ll hear from Chicago Goode STEM Academy Senior and Play for Peace Facilitator, Alondra. Alondra was connected to Play for Peace through Mentor, Kelly McCollom during band class where she started advertising for the club.
Kelly: “... for me as a teacher, getting involved with Play for Peace has completely changed my classroom as far as being able to build community within my classroom, build relationships with students, and helping students to build relationships with each other. In doing a lot of Play for Peace activities with my students, they told me that this is the only class where I get to talk or where people listen to me, this is the only class where everybody knows my name, this is the only class that I know my classmates’ names. So, it’s really made a big difference for me and for all the students I see in my classroom.”
Alondra felt this as well coming into the class as she shares some of her reflections and experiences with the Play for Peace Chicago Goode Club below. I know I personally resonated with her background of growing up in a competitive sports environment and how coming into Play for Peace she’s able to see a different perspective.
Yasmin: “What are some of the things you’re learning at Play for Peace in your Club?”
Alondra: “I’ve learned that winning is not always the important thing because I played games before that. I didn’t have fun - but we won. But, with Play for Peace, no one wins (per se) but it's always fun. Does that make sense? It's amazing and it's just like the best feeling ever cause I always thought growing up, “Oh I need to win to have fun”. That was always my mentality because I play sports. Now that I’m in this, I've learned that we can actually have fun without winning because it brings different races together and we’re all communicating. I feel like Play for Peace is actually bringing peace. Every time I leave, I leave with a smile or I’m happy or I drive home happy.”
Pre-pandemic the Chicago Goode Club scheduled a Practice Peace Session with their neighboring elementary school, only to have it postponed for two years. They went on to have two sessions with the children, one visiting the elementary school and one where they brought the young students to visit the high school.
Yasmin: “We’d love to hear more about these events that you all have been hosting with the elementary school in particular, what’s been happening at these events?”
Alondra: “When we went, it was my old school, so it brought a lot of flashbacks, which was amazing because I haven’t been there since 8th grade. I got to see a lot of my old teachers and old staff which made my day. I also saw a lot of little kids and they reminded me of when I was there and they reminded me of how much I grew into the person I am now.
One of the teachers followed up with the group sharing, “My students said it was the best day ever. They built peer relationships, worked on crafts, improved their trust with one another, sang songs, and played games. A lot of our students don't get opportunities to interact positively with older students in the community, so thank you for an incredible gift and program!!”
Yasmin: “How did that make you feel hearing that feedback from this teacher?”
Alondra: “It made me feel happy…but it was a weird happy because I couldn't believe that I made someone’s day like that, you know? It's just different because they're growing up in this world and they're finally able to play. You know how technology is taking over. For them to actually interact with other students and us older kids, it made my day for sure and I feel like it made everybody’s day. Just being together and being able to play for peace.
Yasmin: “What inspires you to be in this club?”
Alondra: “Being a part of the program, what inspires me is seeing everyone be happy. Actually, being able to see someone smile makes my day, and being able to interact with people I usually wouldn't interact with. It’s just cool to be able to bring peace and to go around and play - especially for my age since I’m 18 years. Being able to play again like how I used to play before and having an excuse to play like that is awesome.”
After the 2 sessions were completed this amazon video was caught on a doorbell camera and then sent to the PFP crew.
Roberto shared: “I call this video - The Ripple Effect. This is a week after our play session here at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in Chicago. We had two school groups that came together in play, led by our high school student facilitators. The video is of one of our facilitators arriving at home and a group of neighborhood kids greeting her with the PFP opening. Only one of those kids was in our play session the week before. They taught the opening to the other kids and they all now wait for her to arrive in the afternoon to do this with her. Such a great ripple effect! The best thing I've seen in a long time.”
Yasmin: “Tell me about the video on the doorbell camera.”
Alondra: “...It made my day. It's just cool because every time I go back home they don't call me by my name. They just run to my car when I’m parking and they go, “Hi Play for Peace! Hi Play for Peace!” and it’s funny because they're all small. When I’m going away from my house they go, “Oh, can we do the Play for Peace before you leave?”. It makes my day.”
It really is a ripple effect! Thank you to Alondra and Zaire for sharing their stories and to Roberto and Kelly for guiding the group. We’re super excited to see what the future brings for our club in Chicago!
Until our next update, Play for Peace!