NEWS

Come back to see the progress the petition is making and how you can stay involved. We’ll update you regularly on all the petition news, how many signatures we’ve gathered, and the latest organizations and world leaders backing our efforts.

To see the progress of the petition and all the complete PEACE mosaics, click here.

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International Day of Peace and the Peace Petition

AFS Intercultural Programs has agreed with the Culture of Peace Initiative and Pathways to Peace, to jointly promote the Peace Petition and the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2007.

The Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) is a United Nations designated “Peace Messenger Initiative” with participants in all the world’s regions. Its purpose is to unite the strengths of organizations and individuals who are working to make Peace a practical reality. The CPI is coordinated by the organization Pathways to Peace. The highlight of the initiative is the International Day of Peace which is celebrated annually on September 21. On this day, millions of people worldwide come together to create one day of Peace.

The Culture of Peace Initiative also works closely with UNESCO to promote the International Day of Peace in schools around the world. Many schools are already committed to recognizing this important day by organizing various activities. AFS volunteers, students, alumni and staff are encouraged to link the promotion of the Peace Petition to celebrations of the International Day of Peace, one example being schools could ask their student body to sign the Peace Petition and feature the AFS host students or returnees in their schools on the International Day of Peace. There are many ideas and events for celebrating the International Day of Peace listed on the Culture of Peace web page, www.cultureofpeace.org.

Posted by Tara Hofmann (United States) on Sep 11, 2007

Official Petition Drive launch in Dominican Republic

Last 14th August AFS DOM lunched officially the Petition. The event was hold in Hard Rock Café in Santo Domingo with in presence of national and local media. The speaker of the event were Pedro Almonte (Chair of AFS DOM), Pablo Viñas (National Director) and Minou Tavarez (Member of Congress and active volunteer of the organization)

The Chair and the Director explained the aim of the petition and motivated the whole country to collect a considerable amount of signatures supporting this initiative. Mrs. Minou Tavarez expressed her support to AFS and the intercultural programs and also announced her determination to propose a resolution to the congress supporting this petition.

The popular singer Pavel Núñez and the communicator Samir Saba also expressed their support to AFS.

This event was live on national TV and news paper and magazines will promote it during these days and weeks.

Pablo Vinas Partner Director AFS Dominican Republic

Posted by Pablo Vinas (Dominican Republic) on Aug 16, 2007

Campus Check: AFS calls for more youth exchange programmes

(From left) Yasmin, Tilbrook and Hazrina

08/15/2007 By : J. THEEBAN

It was a night of international splendour when AFS Antarabudaya Malaysia held its Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner. The event coincided with the launch of a worldwide petition to promote peace through youth exchange programmes. The petition has a goal of gathering more than one million signatures and calls upon world leaders to enable and encourage young people everywhere to live and study in cultures other than their own.

In a video presentation during the dinner, AFS International president Francisco Cazal said these exchanges help teach youth to be citizens of the world and provide them an opportunity to advance intercultural understanding in their communities as well as the international arena.

AFS Malaysia ambassador Yasmin Yusuff shared her experience of staying with a large family in San Diego as a 16-year-old. “The experience had taught me to be more confident and tolerant, and to communicate with those of different origins with greater understanding. This is what we want to achieve with our youth under this programme.”

Hazrina Haidar, a returnee from Japan, said that living in the country taught her how different we can be. “When I returned to Malaysia, I used the tolerance and understanding I had learned during my stay in Japan to enhance my relationships with my multi-racial friends,” said Hazrina. Perhaps the best compliment for the country came when Monica Tilbrook, an exchange student from Australia, described Malaysians as happy and helpful.

When asked what she did not like about Malaysia, the teenager frowned while declaring, “Ikan bilis.”

[You can view the original article here.]

Posted by yuan (Malaysia) on Aug 15, 2007

ESP - PRESIDENT OF THE SPANISH YOUTH COUNCIL SIGNS THE PEACE PETITION

On August 9th, the President of the Spanish Youth Council, Mr. Mario Ruiz together with the President of AFS Intercultura España, Mr. Gerardo Gómez launched the Peace Petition Initiative in Madrid.

The Spanish Youth Council (Consejo de la Juventud de España, CJE) is a platform of youth organisations established by law in1983. Its members comprise the regional youth councils of Spain as well as other national youth organisations. Their main goal is to promote youth participation in the political, social, economic and cultural development of Spain within the global context, as stated in Article 48 of the Spanish Constitution. Currently, there are 76 youth organisations involved in promoting the Peace Petition.

CJE DIGITAL,, one of the Spanish Youth Council’s most widely read publications recently featured an article highlighting the launching of the peace initiave in Spain while encouraging Spanish Youth to sing on to the worldwide effort to promote youth exchanges.

Eva Riaño Coordinadora de Comunicación / External Relations Coordinator

Posted by yuan (Spain) on Aug 15, 2007

MEX - Convivencias por La Paz to Support Petition

On August 4, AFS México launched our formal drive to support the petition for peace in Monterrey, Mexico, with a press conference, informational session, and social gathering at the Royalty Hotel Monterrey. Though we had already informally gathered more than 2000 signatures by August 4, we had not yet formally announced our signature drive.

More than 50 people attended the kick-off event on the 4th, including the AFS Mexico National Director and Logistics Coordinator, representatives of several other non-profit organizations in Monterrey that have pledge their support for the petition, host families, ex-participants, and Monterrey AFS volunteers.

That same evening, our volunteers of AFS Mexico were asked to host small events at their homes to gather petition signatures. As a result, the number of AFS Mexxico petition signatures jumped by nearly 1000 in just 24 hours! As participants from the small Convivencias (or gatherings) for peace take their petitions to friends and colleagues, we expect the number of signatures from our country to increase even more in the days and weeks to come.

Once school begins in late August, we will hold the second phase kick-off of the campaign for schools, students and participants. During that phase, we will ask participant schools to gather signatures from their students and families, and will award education-related prizes and national recogntion to the 3 schools who can collect the most signatures by the end of September.

Curt S. Crossley National Director AFS Mexico Aug 06, 2007

Posted by Curt S. Crossley (Mexico) on Aug 07, 2007

Official Petition Drive launch in Paraguay

On friday 27th of July AFS hosted the official launch of the Petition Drive in Paraguay. Amongst the special guests invited to speak were the ambassador of the United States in Paraguay James Cason, President of local NGO “CIRD” (Centre of Information and Resources for Developement) Agustin Carrizosa and Francisco “Tachi” Cazal, President of AFS International.

Representatives from schools, CPOs and AFS business partners as well as AFS participants, volunteers, board and staff formed part of the almost 100 persons who assisted the event in the national office of AFS Paraguay.

US ambassadors key note speech The ambassador of the United States James Cason, former AFSer from USA to Spain, stated the importance of the exchange programs in his key note speech:

“I believe that the work you do is one of the most effective ones to build worldwide friendship. Intercultural exchanges are powerful, they transform. What could make prejudices disappear if not your programs?”

Francisco “Tachi” Cazal and Agustin Carrizosa also talked about the importance of AFS programs, both on an international and national level, urging everyone to sign and promote the petition.

Interview with Francisco Cazal and Anual Report “cover-model” After the speeches Francisco Cazal and former participant David Acuña were invited to the stage to answer some questions about their AFS experience. David is the smiling boy currently on the cover of AFS International Anual report.

Both confirmed that their AFS experience was unforgettable and, allthough done with decades apart, quite similiar to one another. “I truly believe that international exchanges creates friendships, and that international friendships is the key to peace”, stated David.

More efforts AFS Paraguay is now working closely with schools, CPOs and other partners to actively promote the petition in Paraguay.

Posted by Magnus-Andreas Sølvberg Aase (Paraguay) on Aug 04, 2007

Costa Rica - Orientation weekend with a Peace touch

Last weekend was indeed a hectic time for our volunteers and staff. We had three different orientations going on at the same time in different places. As the NH07 sending and hosting cycles get going, we had orientations for newly arrived hosted students, departing students and for sending natural parents. Additionally, orientations for host families had been taken place locally during the previous weeks.

In all activities one topic received all attention: our Peace Petition. We motivated parents and participants to sign it and to get others to sign, distributed signature sheets, displayed our new Peace t-shirts, and offered one additional t-shirt to anyone who completes two full sheets of signatures.

One new cycle gets going in AFS. Our best wishes for the kids who start their intercultural experience, and our heartfelt thanks to the AFS partners that have made it all possible.

ARRIVAL ORIENTATION for YPscNH07 and SMscNH07 groups

CRCYPscNH07 GROUP AT THEIR DEPARTURE ORIENTATION: The big news? Resuming our sending to Russia after many years. Sending to Turkey for the first time!!!

Rolando Araya Partner Director AFS Costa Rica Jul 27, 2007

Posted by yuan (Costa Rica) on Aug 01, 2007

Paint for Peace

AFS YES alumni are getting together to promote the Peace Petition by organising Paint for Peace on the 22 & 23 September 2007. The event will be held at a local shopping complex One Utama. All Malaysians and Friends of AFS are encouraged to come for the event and sign online and also paint on the Peace banner that will be presented later to the representative of United Nations during the World Peace Forum. Many exciting activities are organised throughout the two days. We will update more on the event. So do look out for this space for more updated news on Paint for Peace. For further information please call Nambee, Publicist & Marketing Coordinator [Phone] 017-282 1332 [Email] [email protected]

Posted by Gayathri Velayutham (Malaysia) on Aug 01, 2007

Teens from Around World Graduate from American High Schools

Faiza Elmasry

Voice of America www.voanews.com Washington, DC 24 July 2007

The end of the school year last month also meant the end of an American experience for more than 350 teenagers from around the world. As they wrapped up their stay in the U.S., the exchange students dressed in their home countries’ traditional attire, sang, danced and signed a petition asking world leaders to support continued cultural exchanges. After spending their senior year living with American families and attending U.S. high schools, these teens are going home with good memories, new friends and the hope that they can change the world.

Arundhati Sridhar, 17, from Baroda, India proudly showed off her traditional dress during her high school graduation ceremony. She says she has felt like a special ambassador from her country to Atlanta, Georgia, where she spent her senior year. She says it was the most exciting school year she has ever had.

“It was amazing, I think, for me to test my limits, to know how far I can go,” she says. “I’ve gotten to reflect on myself this year. I’ve gotten to know myself better, my strength and my weaknesses.”

Arundhati was among more than 350 high school students from around the world who came to the United States through the 2007 Youth Exchange and Study Program. Shrega Parikh, who is also from India, says she discovered the joy of learning in her American school.

“I used always to think that if you want to achieve success, it’s just math and science and that’s it,” she says. “Now I know it’s also art, music, drawing, theater — all that stuff.” That realization motivated Nikhita Naha, from Ahmedabad, India, to study subjects she’d never explored before. “I took all different kinds of classes like, for example, photography, TV production, drawing and painting,” she says. “We got to do a lot of projects. We got to present our research in different ways.”

David Baskara, an Indonesian student, says going to school in Maryland gave him a chance to discover new abilities and talents.

“I joined wrestling,” he says. “That was something I haven’t ever done before. I also joined the choir and went to Florida for a spring concert.”

Playing sports was the highlight of this school year for Hussein Qoumy, who left his family home in Bangil, Indonesia, to study in Brockway, Pennsylvania.

“For the whole year I played sports,” he says. “In fall, I played football. In winter, I played basketball and in spring baseball and soccer.”

Hussein says living with an American family was another learning experience. He admits that in the beginning, he wasn’t sure how his host mother, who is a military veteran, would welcome a Muslim kid named Hussein.

“She was in Iraq for one year,” he says. “The first time I came down here I thought, ‘It’s weird. My first name is Hussein. I think something is going to be wrong,’ but the first time I came, she talked nicely to me and said she wanted to host me because she was in Iraq and wanted to learn more about my culture and my religion.”

Qoumy and his fellow exchange students say that conversations at family dinner tables, in classrooms and at the mall helped build understanding between different cultures.

Qoumy says during the year, he and other exchange students gave presentations at school, wearing traditional costumes. “No matter where you are, no matter what color your skin is or what religion you are, we are the same human being. We have to live together peacefully,” he says.

“They got to understand what India was, that it isn’t just cows on the streets,” says Parikh. “It’s good food and good people.” She adds that democracy was a topic that came up a lot, and that she discussed with other students “and that we still need good leaders in the future.”

“There’s a lot of problems in the world: war, famine, drought,” says George Thomas, a student from India. “It’s a good thing that the leaders of the world know that the kids who are gonna take their place one day want to have peace and unity.”

The experiences these students get through Youth Exchange and Study can help them become tomorrow’s leaders, according to Nancy Levine, a manager with the program.

“They really are used to interacting with people from different cultures, which has a huge impact on these students,” she says. “They go back and are dealing even with cultural groups in their own countries. One student says, ‘if I can affect people with students from different countries, why can’t I do the same thing with my own countries.’”

Just before returning home, Levine says, the class of 2007 signed Exchange for Peace, a petition to world leaders calling for increased support of international exchange programs. “It’s basically telling world leaders we feel that one of our most important priorities is intercultural understanding among different countries,” she says. “We want you to make it a priority and one of the best ways to do that is through these kinds of person-to-person exchanges. This is why these exchanges are so important and that the funding should be in place and should be increased, because they really have such an amazing impact on people all over the world.’”

The goal is to collect one million signatures by October. The petition is available on-line, at http://www.exchanges4peace.org, where people from around the world can read and sign it. Nancy Levine says while this year’s graduating students are taking home lots of memories, they are leaving behind this effort to support exchange programs in the future, so more students can take part and help promote peace and mutual understanding worldwide

Posted by yuan (United States) on Jul 30, 2007

Ideas and Strategies for Promoting the Petition from AFS in the Dominican Republic

Ideas and Strategies for Promoting the Petition from AFS in the Dominican Republic

AFS in the Dominican Republic is in third place in gathering the most number of signatures. The most recent report shows 2,566 persons have visited the website and offered their support. We were curious about what our friends have been doing to promote the petition and asked Pablo Viñas, the Partner Director at AFS Dominican Republic about how they have gone about their work. Their efforts are listed below under headings that describe broadly the type of initiatives they have taken.


AFS National Partner Initiatives and Support:

Obtain strong support from the national AFS leadership

Provide chapters with petition sign-up sheets

Send chapters emails with the petition and ask everyone to forward to friends and relatives.

Take into consideration the amount of paper signatures collected by every AFS volunteer as one of the factors in selecting the volunteer of the year and also the chapter of the year.

Have the AFS volunteers organize teams to collect signatures in shopping centers, airports, universities, schools, church, parks, and every single place where great numbers of people congregate. The volunteers may enter the signatures themselves on the petition website (www.exchanges4peace.com) or can send them to the Partner organization for data entry. Even if the volunteers make the data entry, they are required to send the paper sign-up sheets to the AFS Partner organization so that board can confirm the work of every chapter.

Public Relations and Communications Initiatives The AFS Partner Director has been invited to and will attend a number of TV and radio programs to talk about the petition.

Promotion of the petition on the local AFS website are promoting the number of signatures gathered as a friendly competition between countries in which Dominican Republic could be the number one.

Have an official press release/conference of the petition on 9th August with prominent individuals from the public life of the country supporting the petition as participants. Our goal is to gather with 5,000 signatures that day. Artists, singers, and politicians, will also be at the press event.

The international day of World Peace is the 21st September, for that day have a goal of collecting between 10,000 and 20,000 signatures.

Go to their website for more information: http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org/

Create an event around the International Day of Peace. AFS is the Dominican Republic is planning a concert for peace in Santo Domingo and collect as many signatures as possible during the event. School will start again on August, having many students together will allow us to reach our goals.

Government Support The petition is supported by several members of the Congress, especially Minou Tavarez Mirabal, a popular member of Congress in the Dominican Republic. The Congress has offered to make a resolution on both chambers (senate and deputies) supporting the petition.

Once more thanks a lot to AFS International for giving us such a tool for branding and expanding a nice message for peace.


Many, but not all of the strategies that they have implemented are listed in the Petition Promotion toolkit that we have provided AFS Partner organizations. We urge you to refer to the toolkit for ideas on how to promote the petition. The ideas and initiatives posted may also be used by other organizations in their own petition promotion efforts.

Carlos Porro Communications Manager AFS Intercultural Programs [email protected]

Posted by Rebecca Messner (United States) on Jul 24, 2007

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