Anyone else need some good news these days?
City Stay and Like a Girl are two places giving me hope. Youth are leading the way to peace:
While the news cycle was saturated with separating families at the border, the Muslim ban and shifts on the Supreme Court, four high schoolers quietly did the work of local peacemaking in the Twin Cities. In mid-June, four youth I work with participated in City Stay. They each spent five evenings with families from the area who identify as being part of the immigrant community. Nerves were evident from the hosts and participants as I sent them on their way on a Friday evening. By Monday morning, the youth were brimming with stories of trips to the Hmong market, bubble tea, traditional clothes, babies, chicken coops, hand tying ceremonies, Thai rolled ice cream, war stories, cooking Romanian soup, sipping Columbian hot chocolate, four generation households and shopping for fresh Pho ingredients. The families were warm and welcoming, teachers, forthcoming their stories and traditions. The youth listened and were grateful.
During the weekdays the youth volunteered at Peace House, met with politicians from immigrant communities, and explored museums and markets to deepen their cross-cultural experience. The program ended with a potluck. The youth sat at tables with their birth families and host families, eating tater tot hot dish and fresh spring rolls. Everyone was tired, and ready for some routine, but they were also energized by what they learned from each other. Our youth benefitted from radical hospitality. They were brave enough to challenge status quo and comfort to grow, intentionally crossing boundaries to learn more about their neighbors who celebrate a different culture. It felt both simple and profound.
There is an invisible pitch. It has trash cans for goals and pebbles for turf. The girls playing there tend to be girls of color, immigrants, refugees and from low-income families. But wow can they play soccer. Like a Girl is an organization that sees the invisible pitch clearly. Coaches train the girls on that pitch in a way deepens community, grows skill and feeds their existing passion for the game. They work to make the invisible pitch visible. Those paying attention approach with curiosity. The skill, laughter and passion is contagious.
Like a Girl believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to be seen. And they believe soccer should be fun. July 21-22 they are hosting their college showcase at McMurray fields in St. Paul. 25 colleges will come to see amazing talent they might miss in the big, expensive tournaments. There will be excellent food and impressive soccer. I will be there, and I know I will be heartened by what these ladies teach me about what it means to play like a girl. Come check it out!
By promoting creativity, having fun and celebrating failure, Like a Girl gets that this is bigger than soccer. They have created a pitch where the girls feel seen, encouraged and nurtured.
You will find what you are looking for. I’ve been looking for hope and healing, fuel for the work. I’ve found inspiration in these two organizations doing great work. The more youth who become actualized and unstoppable, the better. Crossing boundaries and compassionate sight are two components of peace.
There are great stories happening all around us. When you look around, what do you see?