Peacemaker Friday: March 11, 2016

A 10-year-old learning Arabic; addressing stereotypes through humor; welcoming refugees into your home; a comic book character who confronts pain; politics for peace.

Here are the week’s best stories of people reaching across enemy lines, loving the other, and waging peace…

For 10-year-old boy, learning Arabic is a vehicle for empathy
William Scannell of Alaska shares his story for the #ISpeakArabic video series. After being exposed to Arabic on a family trip to the Middle East at age 5, he pleaded with his parents until they let him learn Arabic. “I think Arabic has changed my life,” says William. Hearing about the refugee crisis, William worked with his elementary school art class to create Postcards of Hope—artwork from Alaskan kids sent to Syrian refugee kids in camps. According to his dad, “Arabic has given William a vehicle to express his most important quality: his empathy for human beings.” 
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Comedians use humor to diffuse Islamophobia
A group of Muslim-American comedians were granted permission this week to hang posters in NYC subway tunnels to promote their documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” The flashy posters are designed to engage readers through humorous twists on stereotypes, such as “The ugly truth about Muslims: Muslims have great frittata recipes” and “Beware, the Muslims are coming. And they shall strike with hugs so fierce, you’ll end up calling your grandmother and telling her you love her.” 
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The surprising things you learn when you welcome the refugee crisis into your home
“The Syrian refugee crisis took on flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood,” writes Leah Kostomo, when her family decided to host a Syrian refugee family. “It’s a relief to know them,” she writes. “But it’s also heartbreaking, because their suffering is just a small window into a world of suffering.” Kostomo describes how this precious family has completely changed how she views the refugee crisis. 
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Using comic books to confront pain
Marvel Comic editor, Sana Amanat created the comic book character Kamala Khan out of her own experience growing up as a Pakistani-American. Amanat, who delivered a TED talk in 2014, chose to use her gift of storytelling to reach out to “anyone else who feels like misfits themselves.” Her story is about “confronting the labels you’ve been assigned and sculpting them and redefining them until you figure out who you are.” The comic book series recently won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics. 
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Muslim American millennial works to educate fellow Muslims on voting
In this episode of Humanizing America, Wisconsin native Reema Ahmad works to educate fellow Muslim Americans about voting and the US political process. “I want to fight for something better,” says Reema, who seeks to give fellow Muslims a peaceful way to have their voice heard in America. 
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