On Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, the PeaceJam Foundation – an organization with the mission to create young leaders that has worked with the Dalai Lama and 12 other Nobel Peace Laureates – made a surprise visit to DCIS at Fairmont. Students and educators found out that they had been chosen to receive the PeaceJam Student Award for their efforts in reaching out to newly-arrived refugees in Denver.
The students at DCIS at Fairmont started with an idea. They wanted to do something for Denver’s refugee community. Their first backpack drive provided school supplies, household supplies, hygiene items and food to refugee families from the Lutheran Family Services community. In March, the school presented this service-action project to Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace laureate, at the Rocky Mountain PeaceJam conference, and received encouragement to continue their important work.
Ebadi asked the students questions like, “what else do you think these children and families need?” The students responded by listing many of the essential things like a home, food, clothes and a job. Ebadi responded with some encouragement to help the students.
“Those are all very important things, but remember, they also need your friendship, and once you become their friends, you will see that they are just like you,” she said.
With that, the DCIS at Fairmont students promised to reach out to the refugees in an even more personal way. Soon after the confernce, the students invited several young refugee students to their school for a facilitated dialogue during lunch to understand the challenges and triumphs these young asylum seekers overcame when they relocated to the United States. These students also have future plans to host several multi-cultural events to meet more of their refugee neighbors, and continue to do their part to welcome them.
“We work hard to empower youth all over the world to believe that they can create a better world, and the way they can begin to do this is focusing on a need in their own community,” said Dawn Engle, PeaceJam executive director.
DCIS at Fairmont students will be honored at the PeaceJam 20th Anniversary Celebration on Nov. 11 at the Denver Center for Performing Arts.
“Sometimes we all forget that changing the world often begins with a simple idea, and one act of peace at a time.” said Ivan Suvanjieff, co-founder and president of PeaceJam. “Thank you DCIS at Fairmont for inspiring all of us to make a difference.”