PeaceJam gets mentioned a lot at The Mount and for those who do not know what it is, it can be a bit of a mysterious thing, perhaps because of the name.
The name might lead you to think we have joined the WI and are singing Jerusalem while making sweet preserves, or it could be some sort of ‘down with the kids’ music event… In brief, PeaceJam exists to bring Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and young people together to inspire young people to take action that will bring about positive change. The examples of the Laureates’ lives, struggles, tenacity and their sharing of what inspired them is communicated face-to-face through conferences but also through the PeaceJam website and curricula. Students learn how to make change happen; it’s called service learning. This means learning valuable skills while giving service. The Laureates are determined that students investigate and develop projects to address the root cause of issues, and not focus on raising money to ease symptoms of systemic problems.
The Mount School at conferences
A PeaceJam conference is the highlight for students. They are high energy, with a young MC. Participants are very varied socially and culturally and they are mixed up in family groups with well-trained university-age student mentors. The Laureate talks about their motivations. There is a sharing of what inspires us, between the Laureate and the students. During the weekend students also undertake skills workshops and carry out a service project.
The UK conference is in March each year at the University of Winchester. It is open to students in Year 9 and above. They have to complete a PeaceJam service project to present to the Nobel Laureate in order to attend.
The links we have with PeaceJam Europe enable our older students to be mentors, provide our students with the chance to work across cultures, and support other PeaceJam groups because their students realise they are not alone – they tell us that some of their school cultures make it hard for students to keep going in the face of peer-group scorn.
Mount School PeaceJam links between conferences
We have two PeaceJam slams planned in the City of York for 2016-17 on 5 November and 11 February. A Slam is a one-day event with an inspirational speaker, mentors, service projects and workshops. These will be organised by University of York students and be promoted through the York Independent State School Partnership network. They will be open to school students across the city from Year 9 upwards.
PeaceJam in the Junior School
The Junior School children have been working on the lives of the PeaceJam Laureates. The Compassion in Action curriculum chapters have been used in PHSE this year for Years 7-11. Students in Years 9-11 have had meetings in small groups to prepare their projects for Winchester and from September, College girls will organise a weekly lunchtime activity to help support these projects. College girls continue to have PeaceJam sessions as part of Global Thinking lessons. They use parts of the PeaceJam Ambassadors curriculum and then, in their study groups, they plan and carry out a service project. This is then assessed in the summer term and feeds into the UCAS process.
The girls who are now trained as mentors following the Monaco conference have already deployed their new skills in their Form Senior role. They are going to pass on some of what they learnt to College II on September’s Induction Day.
Our PeaceJam Greece friends have a well-researched and specific project called LifePack for child refugees. We have agreed to support them this year with this work. College girls will launch the work as part of Quaker week and we hope that the wider School community will also join in. We hope to explore closer links with them, including possible exchange visits as part of which students will undertake social action projects together.
That’s all for now but do watch this space for more PeaceJam updates!