By WorldLink Intern Durana Saydee, Kearny High School
For the third consecutive year, WorldLink youth leaders are designing and overseeing its Spring Youth Initiative — a group of dedicated high school students, including myself, from San Diego and Baja Mexico who are making a conscious effort toward converting globally focused dialogues into service-based action projects.
Building on WorldLink’s 19th Annual Youth Town Meeting, “Youth’s Influence on the World: For Better or Worse,” the Spring Youth Initiative seeks to further the positive influences young people are having on today’s world.
With hopes of identifying and supporting a local youth-led organization and its mission, we reached out to Hands of Peace (HOP) San Diego, “an interfaith organization developing peacebuilding and leadership skills in Israeli, Palestinian and American teens through the power of dialogue and personal relationships.”
February 27 marked the Spring Youth Initiative’s first event! WorldLink students participated in HOP’s event at the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center to create murals that embodied concepts of peacebuilding, understanding and anti-Islamophobia.
We arrived at 1 p.m. and introduced ourselves, providing us the opportunity to meet and connect with students from all over the San Diego region. The goal was to produce two murals that would later be donated to the North County Islamic Foundation (NCIF) in Carlsbad, Calif. and a refugee camp in Greece. Immediately, we began to brainstorm on potential ideas for what we would like represented.
The first mural, to be presented to NCIF, included an image of a person with a series of words either leaving or entering their mind. Harmful words, such as misunderstanding, hate, ignorance and stereotypes were depicted to be exiting the person’s mind. Juxtaposed were words such as compassion, tolerance and equality entering the mind. The idea behind this piece of art is that many people, of different ages, associate negative feelings to the mention of words such as “Islam” or “Muslim.” Instead, we as a society need to fill our minds with positive and compassionate narratives.
The second mural will be shared with a refugee camp in Greece. Participating youth designed a series of overlapping circles of different colors with youth’s hands drawn throughout the painting. This mural was based on the theme of unity, which was evident through the expression of intertwining hands. It solidified the idea that while we are different we are also similar, which was expressed through the circles and changing colors similar to that of a Venn diagram.
HOP students and staff were incredibly warm and inviting. We seamlessly came together as a collective, finishing both of our murals in one afternoon. This wonderful volunteer opportunity gave us a chance to express our feelings about pressing topics, such as ignorance and discrimination, and allowed our ideas to come to life through the form of artistic, peaceful expression.