Fasting for Peace – Day Seventy-Four

By Venus Mesui, The Mother at Life Academy and RAW Co-Coach

Venus Mesui (adult near the center), RAW Co-Coach, fasted on 3/29/12 with six student members of her advisory.

 The “I Statement” I reflected on was “I pledge to defend those who cannot defend themselves.” My morning was very hectic as usual, but I was able to eat a good breakfast and I also managed to eat 2-pieces of fruit. I had a salad ready for lunch right before my fast started. Unfortunately things got busy around the office and by the time I went upstairs to meet with our BAM and RAW Members the circle was already in process, therefore I was not able to eat lunch and the last time I had eaten was about 9:30 a.m. Thursday 03/29. I felt good and I did not focus on not being able to partake in my pasta spinach salad, I focused on my “I Statement”.
 I went through the rest of my day like usual and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be until about 4:25 a.m. Friday morning. I got up feeling hungry and a little ill from not being able to eat. I have a medical condition that made me ill from not eating but I took the advice of the faster before me and drank room temperature water and focused on our Peace March that was going to take place at 9:00 a.m. the same morning. I also thought to myself that I was very fortunate to be able to chose when I can eat, what I want to eat, and on occasions select a nice restaurant to have my meals, I just named 3-things that I can do when and if I chose I have choices and many people in the world do not.Then I felt guilty for thinking how I would get through the next couple of hours because I did not get to eat my pasta salad for lunch and that sadden me to think how selfish my thoughts were and how many people in the world go without food, drink, and the essential things in life that I take advantage of and do not truly appreciate. I thought of my friends, family, students, and staff members that agreed to fast with me during the day of our fast. I felt so loved and honored and respected to know that I had all this wonderful support.
Life Academy’s Peace March was the next morning and it was amazing. We had Aztec Dancers open the ceremony for us and we also had over 300 people from our community that participated in our Peace March. Our City Officials including Mayor Quan joined us at our destination which was Peralta Hacienda Park. This was the highlight of my fast and I was not even thinking about my hunger that haunted me since 4:25 a.m. that morning. My hope is that every victim that suffers physical and mental abuse have access and support in their communities. That families suffering from the lost of loved ones to violence find peace and understanding at some time in their lives. That people see the beauty in themselves and understand that we are more then what we see in the mirror, we are soldiers that must deliver the message of Peace to our Communities. We are Peace Builders and I, Venus-Vernadine E. Mesui pledge to be a Peace Builder for the rest of my life and beyond.
Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.

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Fasting for Peace – Day Seventy-Two

By: Kim Young, Life Academy Teacher

Kim Young (center), Life Academy teacher, fasted with students Julio Nunez (left) and Ruby Burciaga (right) on 3/27/12.

I felt really good the whole afternoon and evening that I was fasting.  I tried to be smart about fasting and did not stuff myself with food before I began, but I was really unprepared for how I woke up feeling.

This morning I was dizzy, felt sick and was exhausted.  I thought about breaking my fast early because I was afraid I would not be able to teach feeling like this, but I decided to drink a HUGE glass of water and leave my house.  That was the right move because I am making it though the morning feeling great.

I reflected on the statement that says, “I pledge to defend others that cannot defend themselves.”  I connected to this statement because I often feel like the work that I do does not have real impact.  I was sad to hear about my students recently attending a fight and was concerned that all my hours of personal sacrifice were in vain.  But, reflecting on this statement helped me put things in perspective and helped me remember that I am a powerful person in this world as long as I put my efforts in the right place.  I love the idea of defending those who need it because it is applicable to many different situations.  That statement makes me feel powerful!

Edited By: Eva Oliver, RAW Co-Coach

Fasting for Peace – Day Seventy-One

By: Nanci Roman, College Counsellor in the College and Career Information Center

Nanci Roman (right), director of the College and Careers Information Center on the Life Academy Campus, fasted on 3/26/12.

Like many of the Life Academy students, I too was born and raised in a community that has normalized violence for the sake of survival. I am used to the lock downs, the drive bys, gangs, police brutality, the loss of life, and the systemic constraints and feelings of despair that inequalities produce on a daily basis.

As I reflected during my fast, endless thoughts came to my mind. I thought about my own best friend who is incarcerated, how gangs have affected my own family and of all of the young people I see on the streets when I drive to and from work. I also thought about Marco Cassilla’s viewing and Luis’s funeral. I couldn’t help but to feel angry, sad and angry again. I thought about the families, especially the mothers and fathers who often ask why, why they have to bury their own children. As hard as the reality is, I think it is important that we move beyond the emotion.

Witnessing the student led Season of Peace Building and the Life Academy community as a whole has taught me that normalizing violence is not survival and that living by surviving, is not living at all. We deserve more; we should fight for more; and, although we may not be able to stop violence, “we can build peace.”

But, how can we build peace?

I personally think that violence is a reaction to issues. Due to the issues that cause violence being so many and different, our approaches to Peace need to be just as many and dynamic in order to address the multiple layers of violence. We need community organizers, educators, researchers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, politicians, moms, dads and even brothers and sisters to work together in building structures that will help people stay away from committing and being victims of violence.

Personally, I love being the college counselor at Life Academy. I love the students, community, and most of all I love that I get to help youth access something that I know will change their lives. I stay late at work, work on the weekends and edit college and scholarship applications until the wee hours of the day because I believe in the power of education. I believe that education can change these students’ lives just like it has changed mine. I believe education can prevent violence, which is why the fact that the Season of Peace Building is happening at a school is so powerful.

Therefore, the “I statement” I chose to focus on during my fast was about committing myself to building peace. While I had every opportunity to sneak in at snack, especially at night when no one could see me, I remained firm and decided to ignore the sounds of my belly and the headache of hunger because that night I felt part of something bigger, something more important, something powerful.

Edited By: Eva Oliver, Life Academy Teacher

Fasting for Peace – Day Seventy

By: Julio Magana, BAM Coach

El Sabado pasado fue una experiencia inolvidable por razones buenas y malas tambien. Aunque no fue completamente positiva yo creo que tengo que representar la verdadera realidad de nuestra experiencia. El dia 24 de Marzo, l@s estudiantes del Club “Futbolistas for Life” organizaron un torneo de futbol (soccer) aqui en el campus de Life Academy. Por causa de la lluvia, no pudimos tener los partidos afuera y tuvimos que organizar algo completamente diferente adentro del gimnasio.  El dia empezo bien lindo con un circulo grandote que explico nuestra campaña “Season of Peace Building” y luego los estudiantes de Castlemont nos hicieron una presentacion sobre El Capitalismo y Los Estudiantes del Club de Life Academy “Los Dream Act Kids” hicieron uno sobre Como los Estudiantes sin papeles pueden asistir a la Universidad o El Colegio.  Creo que estos talleres fueron un exito importantisimo.

Despues, hicimos 5 equipos con muchos miembros de la comunidad y estudiantes de BASE HS de ALameda.  Los partidos eran bien rapidos y intensos a causa del tamaño del lugar y el tiempo cortito que cada partido tomo, solo 15 minutos.   Todos estabamos batallando (algunos en maneras no tan positivas) para ganar y resulto que habian 2 equipos con el record de 1-1 (una victoria, una perdida).  De esto vino la drama que uno de los equipos sintio ofendidos que no avanzaron en el torneo y ellos (incluyendo miembros de BAM y la Campaña de Crear Paz) empezaron a gritar a la entrenadora usando malas palabras en frente de todos.  Ellos tambien fueron enojados porque pensaron que el otro equipo estuvo tratando de lastimarlos y no querian saludar al otro equipo despues de jugar.  Yo estuve bien ofendido por el portamiento de mis “Hombres Jovenes” pero no pude calmarlos ni hacerlos pedir desculpas a la entrendora.  No sabia que hacer.

Esta experiencia nos represento bien malo y habia miembros de la comunidad que tambien fueron ofendidos que estos representantes de la campaña portaron asi.  Yo les queria gritar y llamarles a sus padres. El dia siguiente yo queria hacerles visitas a sus casas pero mi novia no me dejo.  Dijo que era el dia de descansar y que yo tuve que relajar y pensarlo bien.  En vez de levantar un dedo para castigarlos o informar al Director, yo empece un ayuno el dia siguiente-el domingo. El ayuno es una manera bien usado por religiones para hacer a la gente que se piensa profundamente y esto definitivamente me ayudo.

En vez de abandonar a la campaña por causa de las acciones de unos pocos miembros, decide irme a una iglesia para informarlos de nuestra campaña y invitarlos a nuestra marcha.  Los miembros de la iglesia nos trataron como si fueramos nobles y nos ofrecieron muchos rezos bonitos para apoyar a nuestros alumnos y maestros ayunando. Yo no les avise que estaba mas acepte sus ofrendas y me senti una ola de energia positiva. Para ellos nuestra campaña representa la esperanza, la humildad , el sacrifico y el mismo compromiso que Jesucristo nos demostro cuando lavaba los pies de sus disiples.  Me senti un gran honor de esta comparacion y este proceso me hizo reconocer la cantidad de progreso que esta campaña apenas esta empezando en nuestra comunidad.

A pensar que nuestra Madre de las Madres, Margarita Guzman tambien estaba ayunando mientras que cuidaba y daba comida a su familia me recordo que la vida no se para aunque queremos que gente dan cuenta de lo que estamos haciendo.  Por eso, decide lavar mi ropa y pense en mis programas y me fui a la biblioteca para investigar videos para nuestro equipo de patinadores.  Alli encontre una amiga maestra que me abrazo fuertemente para felicitarme de la inspiracion de nuestra campaña.  Ella me dijo que esta ayunando de los coches y que ya tiene tres años sin manejar.  Eso es su manera de protestar la contaminacion que trae los carros.  Esto me hizo pensar en otras formas de ayunar y protestar en maneras personales.

Este ayuno empezo con frustracion pero resulto que me di cuenta de la imensidad de nuestra esfuerza para cambiar el dialogo a crear paz en vez de luchar en contra de la violencia.  Me ayudo a reconocer los gran pasos que hemos tenido por medio del ejemplo que estamos proponiendo. No vamos a cambiar todo. No podemos quitar toda la violencia que aprendimos como parte integral de la competicion de los deportes. Pero podemos parar a pensar y reflejar de lo que hemos hecho y buscar otras ideas de hacer algo diferente la proxima vez.  En una manera bien simple, el ayuno me enseño eso.

Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.

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Fasting for Peace – Day Sixty-Nine

By Alex Vila, Youth Developer

Esta es mi segunda vez que hago ayuno para apoyar a los jovenes en su esfuerzo por crear paz en la ciudad de Oakland.

Estaba de viaje en Atlanta, cuando empeze my ayuno y se me hizo muy facil las primeras 6 horas. Ese dia hiba de viaje y me tocaba estar en el aerepuerto a las 8:00 de la noche para tomar el ultimo vuelo a las 10:00 pm. Me parecio muy conveniente porque asi podria dormir en el avion y no sentir el hambre tan fuerte. Todo estaba bien hasta que llegue al aerepuerto para esperar mi viaje. Cada vez que pasaba por los pasillos del aereopuerto en Atlanta sentia como si hubiera mas tiendas de comida que aviones con gente,y  los olores me agobiaban y mi dolor de hambre me toco duro. La unica manera de meforcarme fue meditar y pensar en cual era la ensenanza de lo que estaba viviendo. Mientras abordabamos el avion finalmente se me prendo la luz, nuestra hambre por paz genuina, se vuelve mas dificil al encontrar todos los lugares de comida rapida, donde las soluciones por paz nos son permanentes pero ligeras y el cambio social no existe. La paz, como la nutricion verdadera, nunca se sacia con cosas rapidas sino es un proceso de conviccion espiritual, disciplina diaria con el ejercicio de hablar con paz, actuar con paz, pensar en la paz y hacer cada accion desde el lugar mas tranquilo de nuestras almas. Finalmente llegue a mi casa muy de noche, y antes de acostarme  hize mi ultima meditacion: Hasme un instrumento de tu paz, donde haya oidio para que siembre yo el amor; donde haya dolor que siembre yo el perdon y donde haya abandono que yo de amor… esa noche esas fueron mis palabras tomadas de la boca de San Francisco de Asis… yo en mi hambre quiero ser paz y una embajadora de paz. Es en la armonia de mi pueblo que la liberta absoluta existe.

Con devocion al moviento juvenil en busca de la paz comunitaria.

Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.

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Fasting for Peace – Day Sixty-Eight

By Phuong Le, Junior

The first two ladies on the right, who are wearing their new RAW shirts, fasted on 3/23/12.
Phuong Le, Life Academy junior and RAW member, and Linda Alecio, Life Academy senior and RAW member, fasted together in honor of Women's History Month.

I had fasted before and thought that it was pretty easy, so I thought that it wouldn’t be as hard this time. I was wrong. There were a lot of events that I went to that day: Women History Month town hall, cross-site E-Team meeting and a workshop the following day. I was running around helping others and that took all my energy. I had headache and felt nauseous. The funny thing was that I knew that helping others made me weaker, but I couldn’t stop and say “no.” Daryna and Andrea fasted with me, which motivated me to keep on going.

My I-statement was “I pledged to raise awareness about sexual assault and rape and give voice to the victims of these crimes.” We should give a voice to all these victims and encourage them to do the same. Everyone needs to step up against all kind of violence and show the victims that they’re not alone.

I participated in the fast relay because I know that it is a step to help build peace in the community. I know that it can not stop the violence, but it can help raise awareness to it. It shows that a school community actually cares and that we are willing to sacrifice something in order to make a difference. One step forward is better than not taking a step at all. It has to start somewhere and Life Academy is where it started.

Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.

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Edited by Yuvitza Rivera, Sophomore