A Need ID'd by Youth
join in advocating for peace.
wisdom comes peace." –James Lubo Mijak
The 9th grade English teachers and Any1Can Club of Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, are on a global education and service learning journey. In 2013-14, they led 900 students in 9th grade English classes to investigate the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan and new country of South Sudan, and consider themes of conflict and peace in the books Romeo & Juliet, The Odyssey, The Hunger Games and Monster. In December 2013, fighting erupted in South Sudan fueled by power and ethnic disagreements. Over several months, thousands of South Sudanese civilians died and more than one million people were displaced. Prompted by a reflection assignment at the end of the school year, students concluded that education helps build cultures of peace, and peace creates stable environments where it's possible to become educated. In the face of continuing conflict in South Sudan, the Myers Park Any1Can Club launched the Memes for Peace advocacy project.
during 2013 construction
More than 700 students created computer-generated memes, each drawing on a phrase selected from an English reading assignment and an archive of photos from South Sudan. Nearly 100 memes are now part of a Memes for Peace virtual gallery. Thirty memes have been curated into a physical exhibit expressing the students' interpretation of conflict in South Sudan. On July 9, the official anniversary of South Sudan's independence, the Myers Park Any1Can Club launched the Memes for Peace virtual and physical postcard campaign. They mailed 600 postcards to select members of Congress and began inviting schools, churches and civic groups to advocate for renewed peace and humanitarian projects.
Results, Short-term Goals
2014 Walk for Wisdom
- October 15, 2014 - Myers Park High School student Maddie Harrison and Patricia Shafer interviewed about Memes for Peace initiative on Voice of America (Listen here).
- April 2014 – More than 700 Myers Park High School students registered for on-campus Walk for Wisdom; raised $4,400 to support adult literacy in South Sudan
- May 2014 – First Memes for Peace postcard exhibit at Myers Park High School; students sign 600 postcards; (Click here to see Charlotte Observer story)
- Mid-July, 2014 – Myers Park Any1Can Club mails appx. 600 Memes for Peace postcards to select members of US Congress
- July through August 2014 – Schools, churches and civic groups invited to join Memes for Peace physical and virtual postcard effort; Mothering Across Continents introduces the Raising South Sudan Curriculum, which includes a Memes for Peace service learning project
- September 21, 2014: International Peace Day – Announcement of numbers of postcards mailed and commitments from various schools, churches, civic groups to continue participating in postcard campaign
The Memes for Peace project began soon after Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced H.Res. 503, a bipartisan resolution, in the House of Representatives. H. Res. 503 addresses the need for the US government to actively engage in bringing the South Sudan conflict to a sustainable and lasting end and promote reconciliation. The long-term goal of the Memes for Peace project is to enable youth as a voice that promotes peace and invites continuing development support for schools, clinics and clean water in South Sudan.
In the summer of 2013, Lisa Patrizio, a 9th grade English teacher at Myers Park High School, and new Principal Mark Bosco asked Mothering Across Continents to design a multi-faceted professional development and service learning program to help students learn about South Sudan and make a global difference. Special thanks to Human Rights Artist Todd Drake who helped conceptualize this memes-focused project in consultation with Mothering Across Continents. Elizabeth Peacock, as Special Projects Coordinator at Mothering Across Continents, works with Myers Park High School English teacher Carolyn Drake to facilitate ongoing Memes for Peace activities: firstname.lastname@example.org