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The mission of Others Are Us is to help prevent future conflicts by connecting children around the world through activities and curricula that lead to a recognition of similarities and an understanding of differences.
• human beings are not genetically programmed for hatred and conflict.
• children can be taught to recognize tolerance, peaceful conflict resolution, cooperative action and social entrepreneurship as norms.
• children can positively influence how adults in their communities think about and react to others.
• through extended contact with others, children establish life-long attitudes that enable them to seek creative, nonviolent solutions to conflict.
• once a bond of understanding and empathy is established, children will see that they share many problems and that these problems are most effectively addressed through cooperative action.
Others Are Us is a small non-profit working with young people to create big change. Our mission is simple but one for which there is a world of need; to help prevent future conflicts by connecting children around the world through art-based activities.
We have successfully developed and delivered four programs to children in eight different countries over the past six years. Our programs have been enthusiastically received by all who participate. The three significant exhibitions of children's art and written messages that OAU has mounted have brought the children's intercultural connections and understanding back to adults in their communities causing them to re-evaluate their beliefs.
Children, from a young age, absorb the hatred, stereotyping and fear we have for others who don't look, sound or think like we do. These negatives are ingrained in our societies and taught to children, sometimes deliberately but often unwittingly. By bringing children from different backgrounds, cultures and countries together, we help them grow up with the skill to recognize and challenge stereotypes, break down barriers and make the world a more peaceful and compassionate place. We give children who do not have the means to travel and meet others face-to-face a large and exciting window on the world. We provide children whose voices are seldom heard the opportunity to be heard and to play a role in shaping their world and future.
We use art as a language. Children are able to "speak" directly to one another from their life experience, sharing what it is like to be a child in their country and culture. Through art, children can record and communicate their thoughts, feelings and information in a form that can be understood by any other child anywhere in the world without the need for adult intervention.
- Annette Swierzbinski
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