Where Peace Lives Mural Program Impacts New Jersey’s Largest Mosque

Where Peace Lives, the peace through art and dialogue non-profit organization founded by Jeff Clapp, Donna Clapp and Jeff Rudy out of their participation in Landmark Education’s programs is getting prepared for a unique mural exchange: Between students in Costa Rica and attendees of New Jersey’s largest mosque. Where Peace Lives works with schools and organizations to have young people create murals about peace, which are then exchanged with a mural created by young people in another part of the world. The Where Peace Lives program also creates a dialogue between students to create peace in their own lives and in the world.

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Late last year, Where Peace Lives began working with the Islamic Center of Passaic County, one of the largest mosques on the east coast with a congregation of over 6,000 families. They met with several Muslim students at the United Nations and after talking with them decided to go and work with them inside their commitment to peace.

“I did not know the first thing about what it is to be a Muslim or what it is like for them in a post 9-11 world here in the U.S. yet abroad”, says Jeff Clapp. “And through this process I have come to discover a side of myself committed to releasing hate from our vocabulary and I have such a deeper understanding and appreciation for these kids and what they deal with in school and in their community.”

“They don’t feel sorry for themselves and all they want is for people to know who they are and that they are just like every other person out there. One shared with the group the other day that why he chose to participate in this project was he didn’t want other Muslim youth to be looked at as terrorists simply because they were Arabic or Muslim and he was committed to altering that in a positive way. It is this kind of insight and depth of character that has the work we do be so fulfilling. I think Jeff Rudy, Donna, and I are clear we’ve found our life’s purpose and now we are walking that journey.”

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The mural exchange is now getting close to completion–The Islamic Center is planning an unveiling for a special international night later this year. 

In another project Where Peace Lives is working on, Donna Clapp launched a program earlier this year with students at Conerly Road School called Movie Making for Peace. The students will learn how to make a movie and shoot five documentary style shorts that focus on anti-bullying, anger management, getting along with siblings, how to deal with fighting parents, and how to deal with being addicted to video games, especially violent games.

“I’m really inspired by what the kids are bringing to the table. They watch DVD extras and know about green screens and much more than I realized. This all helps to keep the project moving forward and stay exciting. I am thrilled that they are getting to create something that will make a difference in other schools and that they are the creative ones behind it,” says Donna Clapp. “The students are forming the project ideas and directing the types of topics they want to cover through their discussions.”

As previously written in Landmark Education News, Where Peace Lives was a guest presenter at the United Nations as part of the Gandhi/King Season of Non-violence. Students from two New Jersey schools working with Where Peace Lives got to show what they were discovering about peace, as shown here:

For the latest on these projects, go to the Where Peace Lives Website.

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