A Later Lesson in Compassion for Guatemala PFP Facilitator
“When I was a kid I was taught not to hang out with people who were different from me.” - Antonio Quezada
Part of the magic of Play for Peace is its ability to teach lifelong lessons to kids. Children are great learners, and if they grow up learning about understanding and compassion, and how to question what's considered "normal", they will grow into sensitive and empathetic critical thinkers. They'll learn to strive to do well and hope for the best for others beyond discriminatory barriers or cultural biases. But what happens when Play for Peace approaches a life whose childhood occurred so long ago?
Antonio Quezada, a 22-year-old PFP facilitator from San Felipe Reu, Guatemala, is living proof that Play for Peace's lessons are never late. He has been a facilitator for two years and has learned so much. "Having the chance to give kids the right tools to grow up into good people is my favorite thing about Play for Peace and it makes me feel like I am doing something relevant for my community," he said.
Though this sounds like another sweet Play for Peace story - don't worry, it certainly is - the difference is that Antonio very clearly recalls his upbringing, which was completely different from what he has made of his life. “When I was a kid, I was taught not to hang out with people who were different from me," he said. "I am Mormon and my family was very stern about not letting me spend time with anyone who was not Mormon as well.”
As a child, he obeyed his parents; as an adult, he later obeyed his heart and now feels “extremely happy to be part of a group where everyone is included, without any regard for their religion or beliefs or if they are rich or poor.” Play for Peace’s guidelines have shown Antonio different religions are not a reason for separating people even if he grew up being told otherwise.
“In our group," he says with a smile,"there are kids from other religions, yes, but that doesn't matter. All kids want to learn, all kids want to play, and at the end of each session, I see new friendships being born. This is the beautiful thing about Play for Peace: everyone can join and you can both teach and learn.”