My summer peacemaking fellowship: Miguel Sanchez

Two years ago Miguel Sanchez started as a student worker for the Center’s Peace Works program teaching nonviolence and conflict resolution to inner city youth in Milwaukee.

Miguel quickly recognized that the same games, role plays, and discussions that he taught youth in Milwaukee would resonate with youth in Palos Altos, Jalisco, Mexico — his family’s hometown.

As a result, he decided to apply for a peacemaking fellowship which is available for students like him because of donors like you.

Miguel identified Caracol Psicosocial, a Palos Altos-based community center as an ideal partner for his fellowship project. He was familiar with the “Caracol” because his cousin founded it just a few years prior as a safe space for youth to develop leadership skills.

Upon learning that he received the fellowship, Miguel developed the workshops he would facilitate at the Caracol with Palos Altos youth.

These workshops took into consideration that Palos Altos is a largely agricultural area and, like many other regions in Mexico, is influenced by violence in the media and on the streets. Miguel lamented that this inadvertently fosters youth to believe that violence is an appropriate means to conflict resolution.

However, Miguel also saw his workshops and the Caracol as a way to address the root causes of violence. During his fellowship, he facilitated workshops on fundamental approaches to peacemaking and conflict resolution for youth ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old.

In the various role play scenarios he noticed that the youngest kids were the quickest to react to anger with violence so he made sure to model nonviolent behaviors for them and to engage them in discussions about their emotions. By working with the youth on violence prevention and conflict transformation, Miguel helped them come to important realizations at a very impressionable stage of their development.

Due to the small population of Palos Altos, Miguel was able to see the impact his work left on the community in daily situations.

Likewise, your generosity made it possible for Miguel to see his vision — of taking the same skills he gained working with youth in Milwaukee to help future leaders in Palos Altos understand nonviolence — come to fruition.

Miguel Sanchez (in red shirt) leads youth through a conflict resolution role play at a community center in Palos Altos, Mexico.

Just as Miguel left a lasting impression on youth in Palos Altos, the fellowship and your support left a lasting impression on Miguel — it invigorated his enduring passion to teach nonviolent peacemaking and advocate for human rights.