Articles & News

Forever changed, Postville remembers

American Friends Service Committee - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 1:22pm
The Gazette logo Photo: The Gazette/ News Source: The Gazette
Categories: Articles & News

Shaheen continues support for Indonesian community

American Friends Service Committee - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 12:37pm
Fosters logo Photo: AFSC/ News Source: Fosters Daily Democrat
Categories: Articles & News

Tips for Writing for Friends Journal open issues 

Friends Journal - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 12:43pm

Fast Facts:

Since 2012, most of the monthly issues of Friends Journal have been set aside for specific themes. Every eighteen months or so we poll readers and dream up ideas for future issues. Sometimes we’ll be inspired by a particular article that struck a chord with readers; other times we’ll look at a topic that Friends aren’t talking about enough. There are some relatively perennial themes (race, art, finance, social witness, outreach), but even with these, we try to find hooks that might bring fresh voices to the conversation.

We also keep two issues a year open: no theme and no expectations. Most of our unsolicited articles go into a “General Submissions” list that we hold for these issues. Sometimes a choice is easy: we’ll get a blockbuster article that we know we just have to print. But just as often we’ll run some quiet piece of Quaker life that is offered us without regard to our schedules. 

Since we get a fair number of submissions that don’t fall into an upcoming theme, I thought I’d give some tips for writing unsolicited general articles for Friends Journal

The first bit of advice is to give our editorial submission guidelines a good once-over. Two of the most common problems we see are:

  • Length: Articles should run between around 1200 and 2500 words. We can sometimes adapt shorter pieces for our Viewpoint column and longer pieces can be edited down, but it’s never a good sign when something comes to us that so obviously doesn’t fit our format. 
  • Previous publication: Submissions should not have been published elsewhere. We don’t want readers opening our magazine and realizing halfway through that they’ve already read the piece. This includes publication in online forums including personal blogs. We realize ideas sometimes get a first threshing in blog posts but successful articles are almost always written from scratch with print publication in mind.

The next thing to ask when writing or pitching an article to us is “why Friends Journal?” There are very few places where someone can write on the Quaker experience and see their work published. This scarcity weighs on us as we select an open issue’s mix. Authors don’t need to be Quaker but the piece should have a strong Quaker hook. I’m not above doing a control-F on a submission to see how many times “Quaker” or “Friends” is mentioned. If it’s just a tacked-on reference because you’re shopping a piece written for another publication, it probably won’t work for us.

When you’re ready to send us something, please use the Submittable service so that we will have all of your information on file. “General Submissions” is the category for material that we consider for non-themed issues. Do be aware that we only select for these issues twice a year and that our editorial response time is consequently longer for these.  

Do you have a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Please let us know. I keep a running log of suggestions, many of which become themes months or even years later! We’ll be starting our next round of theme planning in late summer 2018.

Submit a General Submission Learn more general information at We’re always looking for new voices and perspectives from our community. Is there a side of the story you think isn’t being told or heard among Friends? Contact senior editor Martin Kelley with questions or ideas at or message on Facebook or Twitter.

The post Tips for Writing for Friends Journal open issues  appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

May 2018 Full Issue Access

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 3:05am
Members can download the full PDF or read any article online (see links below). Fifth Annual Student Voices Project: For this year’s project, Quaker-affiliated students tell stories of Quaker testimonies acting in their lives. Features: “Powerful Quakers” by Lukas Austin; “The Value of Loss” by Emily Weyrauch; “Selling Quakerism” by Tom Hoopes; “The Quaker Value of Testing” by Asha Sanaker. Poetry:  “Respite” by Karen
Categories: Articles & News

Among Friends: Meaningful Values

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 3:00am

If you google “what are quaker values,” a document from Connecticut Friends School we published on in September 2010 will be a top result. In fact, this page, titled “S-P-I-C-E-S: The Quaker Testimonies,” is consistently among the top three most-visited on our site, with an average of 1,200 views every month. It’s not so surprising that the content came from a Friends school. Friends schools have to communicate their core principles in order to attract prospective families. Listing the SPICES is a nice shortcut to getting there, but it’s not the full answer, of course.

Many Quaker groups have long used the shorthand “Quaker values” as part of their brand, which led us to pose this month’s issue topic: “What are Quaker values anyway?” And in an age where thousands of curious eyeballs are landing on your page looking for answers, it’s worth talking about what we mean when we use this term. How do Friends create meaning from the words of our values and testimonies?

Listing peace, community, and equality as part of your founding mission is a feel-good, head-nodding way to attract followers and customers in a competitive environment. Friends school educator Tom Hoopes explores this “mission–market tension” further in his article “Selling Quakerism” and asks “How do we sell the Quaker ‘brand’ without selling out?” He accepts the challenge and suggests some new ways to more consciously use the unique vocabulary of the Quaker faith.

When we’re done talking about words, what does it look like to actually live out these testimonies in the real world? Emily Weyrauch and Asha Sanaker both agree it requires a lot of effort and intentionality, but it helps to practice in a supportive community. Sanaker recently returned to Quakerism after many years of questioning her own clearness around the peace testimony; she’s now grateful to be a part of community of seekers “who take responsibility for continually investigating the Light and how it can best be lived into the world.” While living in community in a Quaker Voluntary Service house, Weyrauch discovered the value of letting go when she decided to leave behind the uglier parts of herself in order to live in the world more fully and with integrity.

For our fifth annual Student Voices Project, we asked students to consider how Quaker testimonies work in our lives. A generation whose voice is getting louder and more powerful responded with inspirational stories. (The deadline to submit for this year’s project was Monday, February 12, two days before the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., whose teenage survivors have led a mass movement for gun control laws.) Baltimore young Friend Lukas Austin speaks to this kind of new empowerment in their feature piece on “Powerful Quakers”: “As long as people remain silent about what distresses them, the problem will continue.”

The student voices this year tell tales of “Quaker values” in motion: learning to center, embracing diversity, understanding peace, struggling with simplicity, marching for stewardship, and fully accepting those who are different from ourselves. Looking at the whole picture, “Quaker values” is simply an entry point. For the people who are searching, I see it as an invitation. And it’s up to Friends to put in the effort and intention to provide a more meaningful answer.

In peace,

Gail Whiffen

The post Among Friends: Meaningful Values appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Student Voices Project

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:30am

Our fifth annual Student Voices Project brought in writing from 163 middle and high school students representing six U.S. Friends schools. We selected 20 honorees whose submissions are featured here. However, due to space limitations in our print issue, we’re unable to showcase all honoree submissions in their entirety. Some have been excerpted on the following pages with the rest of each story appearing in our online edition available at, where you can also see a full list of all 163 participants. This year’s prompt:

Tell us a story about how one of the Quaker testimonies was made real t you in your life. We’re looking for true tales that involve you somehow and illustrate how a testimony went from abstract concept to real-life presence.


  • Center Yourself My journey through my Quaker faith and education all started in nursery school. I went to a small Quaker nursery school. It’s the kind of place where I sat on my teacher’s lap, and the room was filled with worn wooden blocks with a certain cozy smell I can still remember. There’s a beautiful meetinghouse …
  • Our D.C. Family Signs passed by as we continued to drive on the bumpy road. It was a dreary, dark, foggy day. The weather seemed to relate to the type of day we were soon going to have. The lightly tinted windows were open, and I could feel the spring breeze. Cars honked, and lights changed. The silence …
  • To Build Is to Love The stairs to the vast, rustic house creaked as I lugged my teal trunk up the steps. The bright sunlight emanated onto the thick wooden bunks, creating lines of radiance. Duffle bags and suitcases lined the perimeter of the room. Feelings of doubt crossed my mind, and I looked at my parents with big, worried …
  • Comfort in Diversity This is my first year at Westtown School. I am a proud Christian who goes to church and worships God. At my church we sing, dance, cry, and mostly make noise! I am comfortable in this environment because in my culture, we recognize that God deserves all the praise. This is a strong aspect of …
  • All Teammates Deserve Respect Five years ago, I tried out for a new hockey team. When I walked through the glass doors of the ice rink for tryouts, I saw a girl trying out for the same team. I instantly recognized her as I had played against her in years past; I knew she was a tough competitor. In …
  • Finding My Community I grew up going to a Quaker meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. I never truly liked going to meeting because it always felt way too long. My family and I moved to Pennsylvania about four years ago, and we continued to attend Quaker meeting. One day my mom told me I was going on a …
  • From the Circus to the Community “So, Rosie … do you want to go to the Ringling Brothers Circus for their final show?” my dad asks happily. “Of course, I would love to go! Can you tell me why you’ve always loved it so much?” I ask, thinking he might not tell me. “Sure,” he says. “Well, I proposed to your mom there. …
  • Community or Competition I shakily stepped out of the car. I had to grip the door for support. Even though it was a calm, sunny day, I was freaking out. Carefully I pulled my ice skating bags out of the car. I could’ve sworn the bags had gotten heavier. I slowly walked into the rink and started to …
  • Family Is Family I am adopted. Both my mom and my dad are white. Both of my sisters are also white. My brother and I are from Ethiopia, and we have brown skin. I love my parents, my sisters, and my brother. Even though we don’t all look the same, we’re still a family. I live in the …
  • Would You Still Love Me If I Were a Boy? I remember the night I told my mom I wasn’t exactly a girl. I was so worried about telling her. I can’t talk to my parents about regular things much less something this close to my heart. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I considered not telling her. I considered running back to …
  • The Imaginary Box I was different in third grade. Some of my classmates thought antagonizing me was cool; they used it as a badge of social acceptance. I saw many of them as complicit when they witnessed my antagonization. While it only happened occasionally, it stuck with me. What I’ve found to be true is that the people …
  • The Art of Loving Yourself “I love myself.” I speak into the mirror, my voice cracks into a barely audible whisper, the embarrassment squeaking through just ever so slightly. I am close enough to see all my pores, all the smeared residue of makeup, all the bumps and edges of my skin. I can see all of the tiny lines, blemishes, …
  • Different Opinions, Same Community Last year I attended an all-girls school in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This school’s community consisted of some diversity geographically, but most of the girls were the same racially and economically. Sometimes it was hard for the students to accept views different from their own because they were not open-minded or they were not able to comprehend …
  • Teaching Equality When I was about three years old, my family hired a babysitter named Chelsea. Chelsea was quite the culture shock for my white, “Hi, we’re the Griswolds!” family. My sister and I were quickly swept up in Chelsea’s sea of musical talent, sewing, crazy personality, and general affection. We hung around her like thirsty puppies, …
  • Finding Simplicity in My Life As many people’s lives become more cluttered with events and activities, we become more and more reliant on physical items. I spend a large amount of time thinking about this during the summer. My family spends about a month on Southport Island in Maine. We stay in a cottage that my dad’s grandparents purchased during …
  • The Realization Simplicity is something that everyone needs. It’s something that makes life easier. It made my life easier. It adds a glow and a breath of fresh air to our world. But the strange thing about this is that if you don’t have simplicity in your life, you aren’t properly cared for. That is what happened …
  • Peacefulness in a Chaotic World Peacefulness has been a common theme throughout my life and my journeys. My mother and father have been through so much growing up under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Many of my dad’s friends have been imprisoned during the occupation, and many have died from the military violence and shootings that occur. Still my …
  • Stewardship Brought to the Streets of Our Capital I’ve been surrounded by Quakerism since I was about three years old. From preschool through fifth grade, I attended Goshen Friends School. Then I started attending Westtown School, another Quaker private school, where I’m currently in ninth grade. Quaker values and SPICES were always integrated into both of my schools’ curriculums. At Westtown, I attend …
  • Soft Soap and Doom “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” —C.S. Lewis My breath was icy and gave off white puffs in the air. The wind was like …
  • A Simple, Silent Moment Our feet danced in an inch of water, and the wooden benches beneath us were worn from use and age. Anchored in the middle of the lake, my grandpa and I sat in the rowboat that had first belonged to my great-grandfather prior to his death. The boat’s blue paint was chipped and its hull …

The post Student Voices Project appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Center Yourself

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:15am

My journey through my Quaker faith and education all started in nursery school. I went to a small Quaker nursery school. It’s the kind of place where I sat on my teacher’s lap, and the room was filled with worn wooden blocks with a certain cozy smell I can still remember. There’s a beautiful meetinghouse on the property, and a couple times a year, the meeting would invite the children at the school to join them for meeting for worship. I don’t remember what I felt the first time I walked into the meetinghouse, but today, I walk in and am consumed with a warm feeling, seeing the old benches and wood, smelling the history that has existed there for hundreds of years.

The first time I sat through a meeting for worship was rough. I was fidgeting, looking around the room at everyone multiple times, and not able to center myself. My mom told me to center myself, but I didn’t even know what that meant.

We gradually kept coming back to meeting, and eventually became regular attenders. The meeting was very inviting and open to us, which made us feel comfortable there. After nursery school, I went on to attend another Quaker school, and that is when I really started to understand Quakerism. I came to understand the proper meeting behavior, and I really embraced being there.

The meeting that my family attended varied from the one at school. In school, people were whispering during worship, even the seventh and eighth graders. At the meeting my family attended on Sundays, it was always very quiet and no one talked unless they stood up. I noticed my own behavior was different, too. At school, my best friend whispered to me, and of course I whispered back. We got in trouble, but we were so inseparable that it didn’t matter so much to us, because we could not stop talking to each other for even half an hour. At the meeting my family attended, I was really silent, besides some very soft whispers to my mom. The whisper to my mom was always something relevant in my mind, even if it seemed like the most irrelevant thing to anybody else.

When I was in fourth grade, we started attending Philadelphia Yearly Meeting annual sessions. Every person there was very welcoming, and more than willing to help us out. I was with a group of kids that were kind and fun to be around. We also started to go to the quarterly meetings, and we liked attending those, too. Third grade was when I learned the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. After this, I tried to weave these things into my way of life. I started to live more simply, realizing all of the stuff I didn’t need, which I donated to kids that need it more than me. My family started to participate more in helping out the community. I am very grateful that Quakerism has taught me to see the light in every person, regardless of what their race is, where they come from, and who they are.

Now that I am older, I do my best to incorporate the Quaker testimonies into my everyday life. I do not know where my future is headed, but I do see Quaker faith being a big part of my life to come. Now when my mom tells me to center myself, I know exactly what that means. In fact, my mom doesn’t say it to me anymore, for I have learned to center myself on my own.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post Center Yourself appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Our D.C. Family

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:10am

Signs passed by as we continued to drive on the bumpy road. It was a dreary, dark, foggy day. The weather seemed to relate to the type of day we were soon going to have. The lightly tinted windows were open, and I could feel the spring breeze. Cars honked, and lights changed. The silence on our bus stopped, as we went around talking over each other.

My minimester group for We Are Family (a small organization that helps senior citizens in D.C.) had been working for a couple days. I had chosen this minimester because it seemed like it would be a fun experience to talk and interact with people in our community. However today we were going to be doing tough physical work: delivering boxes of food to a seniors’ apartment complex. We began transporting boxes and boxes. There were some kids outside retrieving the boxes, and others moving the boxes into the building. We were like a machine unable to stop, and we wondered what was next. After finishing with all the boxes, we headed to another next apartment complex down the street that also worked with We Are Family.

“Everyone, we are going to split into groups,” our teacher Mr. Merlin says.

We quickly split up and begin our visits with the seniors. We go to the first room, knock on the door, and wait. A minute later we knock again. Soon after we hear a creak in the door, and a very skinny man appears.

“Hello,” he says very softly.

“Hi, I’m Mr. Merlin, and these are my students. We’re here to talk with you about We Are Family and how it has impacted your life.”

“Oh yes, yes, come in, come in,” the man says a little louder than before but still raspy.

Our group walks in and sits down. We offer the man help with anything before he sits down too.

“No, I’m fine. Thank you though,” he responds.

He starts to talk about his backstory. He went to Hampton College. He met his wife a little while later. He seems to not want to talk about her much so he quickly moves to a different subject. He talks about how We Are Family has helped him ever since he was diagnosed with cancer. I start to wonder if that is why this man is so skinny. I knew before that chemo can make you very sick and make it hard to digest food. With all his costs for treatment and housing, We Are Family helps him have a place to live and by providing a certain amount of food each month. He tells us about how We Are Family is the reason he is healthy and sheltered. He speaks softly so we are all silent. Then he asks if we have any questions. He answers them one by one.

This man put so much love, passion, and heart into everything he said to us that day, mostly because this was such an important issue to him. Listening to him made me realize this was an important issue not just to him but to me as well. I discovered a side of me I wouldn’t have found without this incredible experience. At this point I realized that it’s up to my generation to fix this issue. I’ve always hated going through the streets and seeing the saddened eyes of people. It’s so hard for me. I have two sides. On one side I don’t want to help because I’m scared of something different sitting there. On another side it’s too much to watch people suffer right around me in my own community.

Later that week, as I passed by people on the street, I felt more self-aware. I remember trying to look at people in the eye and say hello. I had done this before, but this time I said it with heart and compassion because that’s all someone needs. Before my minimester experience I always acted like people on the streets were invisible. But I know if I was in a position like that, I would want to be acknowledged by the people around me. This is how community is formed: helping people in need. In the end we are all humans and deserve respect from one another, no matter what religion, race, identity, or creed. I’ve learned that these are the people who are part of my community, and it’s my and future generation’s jobs to help these community members in need.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post Our D.C. Family appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

To Build Is to Love

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:05am

The stairs to the vast, rustic house creaked as I lugged my teal trunk up the steps. The bright sunlight emanated onto the thick wooden bunks, creating lines of radiance. Duffle bags and suitcases lined the perimeter of the room. Feelings of doubt crossed my mind, and I looked at my parents with big, worried eyes. I felt comforted by my mother’s reassuring touch. “You’ll do great, sweetie,” she said softly. “We love you,” my father said delicately. The mesh screen door shut with a loud slam as they left me in a cloud of tentativeness and fret. Questions circulated through my brain, filled with inquisitiveness and uneasiness. The answers to these questions were embedded in the campfire pit, the plywood porch, and the cool, crisp Maine air.

“Welcome to Hidden Valley Camp’s Teen Program Community. We have so many goals for the summer, and we’re so excited that you’ve decided to participate,” one of the counselors, a middle-aged woman with hiking boots and a tan bucket hat, informed us.

I picked at a hole in a cushion of the blue-and-red striped couch. As I glanced at the unfamiliar faces of the nine fellow campers around me, I felt as though the summer had a sense of potential that was within my grasp. The possibilities rested in this very living room, in the kitchen, and in the flourishing garden.

“Throughout the month, we will be building community within our small group, at the main camp, and communities around Maine. We will cook all our meals in the house, and every day we will do community service work around Maine. We want you to develop leadership skills and learn how to be a better community member. There is also an aspect of self-sufficiency in the program,” she explained.

Another counselor, a blonde haired women with multi-colored friendship bracelets and strappy sandals, added more: “The aspect of self-sufficiency is that this house has no electricity. We have a small generator that we are planning to activate for ten to fifteen minutes in the morning and in the evening. Every day we will go to a different community to complete service work. For example, we will do trail work at Acadia National Park, harvest vegetables at farms, assist at animal shelters, and visit nursing homes.”

My legs jittered with excitement, and my thoughts transformed from tentative, worried ideas to hopeful feelings. Little did I know the people around me and activities planned would be the essential figures and experiences in the development of a community that I would cherish, value, and admire.

That first night, after a hearty meal of baked ziti with fresh vegetables from the garden outside of the house, we played “get to know you” games and completed ice breaker challenges.

The unfamiliarity and awkwardness still pervaded through the old farmhouse. During the month, through communal activities and shared spaces, memories were made, and the layers of ice melted. The ice melted in the kitchen, where we recognized the power of connection through communal activities, and in the rooms, where whispering and giggling led to the creation of reminiscences. The living room transformed into a friendship bracelet factory, and the porch converted into a dish washing station. The house was the foundation of connection: the place where we fostered our sense of friendship, the place where bonding occurred and laughs were shared.

The nursing home was the first community service site. There, games of bingo and art activities with elderly people took place. Stories of the past were shared, songs were sung, and pictures of children and grandchildren circulated. The first person we interacted with was a woman  named Bernadette. “What beautiful young ladies you are,” she whispered quietly when she saw us. “I was once like you,” she stated, launching into a story filled with nostalgia and sentimental feelings about her childhood in France. Vincent, an elderly man with a passion and love for boats and ships, educated us on his experiences visiting many different countries. Cherie, a bedridden elderly women, was talkative and inquisitive. Her curiosity inspired us to develop an enduring friendship. “The best thing you can do in Maine in the summer is swim in Lake George. I used to swim there everyday and ride my horses, too. I hope you girls get a chance to swim … to swim in Lake George,” she commented. That night, we insisted that the counselors take us to the nearby lake. We swam for Cherie.

At various farms, we harvested vegetables and pulled weeds from the ground, knowing that each piece of produce would be transformed into a filling meal for homeless people. As I squatted on the ground and bits of dirt seeped through the straps of my sandals, I realized the importance of having an interconnected and dependent community. Every piece of produce that our group harvested from offsite farms was sent to a local soup kitchen, which then made hearty meals for people who are struggling. It was at the farms, with the sun casting on my back as I harvested produce and chatted with my friends, that I realized there is an inherent ability and opportunity in the world to impact the lives of others. Glimpsing at the clear blue sky, I envisioned a young girl, a girl like me, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes, eating her first meal all week, a slight smile crossing her face. As I harvested the last of the tomatoes and carried the buckets of produce to the transportation truck, I could see that girl, her eyes filled with naivety. I enlightened her with the notion that there is hope.

At a soup kitchen in Portland, Maine, I scrubbed and washed a plethora of potatoes while heavy knives gracefully cut through vegetables, pans of mac and cheese entered the oven, and smells of freshly baked bread wafted through the air. “Oh, the lines will start soon,” the director of the kitchen advised us. Long lines of hungry people formed. A homeless man with a yellow tinted apron volunteered in the kitchen with us. “Our lives are precariously balanced on the streets out there. Coming here … coming here is all the security we’ve got. It must look different for you girls though,” he said. His message resonated with me as plates were distributed to people of different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Children, adolescents, middle-aged and elderly people took their food promptly, knowing this meal and time would be their solace for the day, their light in a place of darkness.

As I peeked out the window, I noticed that chunks of glass and dirt lined the streets. People moved slowly down the streets as grief and sadness emerged on their faces. My attention was redirected back to the kitchen as I cleaned with the homeless man. He explained how the kitchen operates, and I listened attentively. He asked me about the community program, and I explained what I’ve learned. “This program has taught me that a person can make an impact in a community and learn the process of community building.”

He smiled at me in response and nodded his head in affirmation. His actions suggested his true feelings more than any verbal expression could. As I examined the room, I recognized the connections created among the people in the soup kitchen. I noticed the atmosphere of the room transform from possessing a solemn nature to a space where people gained a sense of comfort. The aura changed because a sense of hope was instilled in a group of people that struggle to find optimism. The room, volunteers, homeless population, and hopeful feelings cultivated a sense of community. People bonded through cordial conversations and appreciation for the provisions of food and service. I admired and ruminated on the power of human connection and the meaning of relationships. I perceived that understanding other people, regardless of their background or culture, leads to the development of a resilient community that holds the ability to change the way in which the world views the power of people to love, to learn, and to grow through connections.

From the conversations with the man at the kitchen, to learning about the elderly folks in the nursing home, to building connections with my fellow campers and counselors, I now understand that there is a sense of strength that is present within the action of truly comprehending people in the world around us. Community is power. Community is connection. Community is change.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post To Build Is to Love appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Comfort in Diversity

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:00am

This is my first year at Westtown School. I am a proud Christian who goes to church and worships God. At my church we sing, dance, cry, and mostly make noise! I am comfortable in this environment because in my culture, we recognize that God deserves all the praise. This is a strong aspect of the African American experience. Through religion, I am constantly learning more about my history and my present.

Then I came to Westtown. Everyone at Westtown was so free and loose, I became afraid to share that I was Christian. I thought people wouldn’t like me because of my religion. The school welcomes all religions, but in sharing about my Christian religion, I would become even more of a minority. Most people at Westtown are spiritual, atheist, or agnostic. While I am not one to shove my religion onto others, I became worried they wouldn’t like me. I became worried they thought that I was going to whip out the Holy Bible, read scriptures, and throw holy water at them. There are many stereotypes about Christians. I was also afraid that people would make fun of and mock me because I am a Black Christian—you know, the good old stomping-on-the-ground, screaming “hallelujah” kind—or that people would say we are “ghetto” and wear “extreme” clothes.

I am used to people assuming things about me that are quite offensive. However, as my knowledge of Quakerism developed, I found a sense of comfort. I like that Quakerism holds a spot for community. This made me realize that no matter what people think, I am apart of this diverse community. I can live life, be Christian, and have friends all in one. The people that make up Westtown today have formed this sense of community, and I feel more comfortable to be myself and express my religion. I like that the SPICES all relate to the world in huge way and that people who follow them are choosing to contribute to a better world. Quakerism has the power to change the world, and as a full-time Christian, I am on board to help!

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post Comfort in Diversity appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

All Teammates Deserve Respect

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 1:55am

Five years ago, I tried out for a new hockey team. When I walked through the glass doors of the ice rink for tryouts, I saw a girl trying out for the same team. I instantly recognized her as I had played against her in years past; I knew she was a tough competitor. In fact, I vividly recalled the intense game in which she checked me on a breakaway that would have enabled my team to take the lead, had I scored. Fast forward five years after the tryouts, Grace is still on the Valley Forge Minutemen with me, and she has turned out to be one of my best friends and a great hockey player.

When Grace and I started playing hockey together, we clicked on and off the ice, quickly becoming friends. Grace was the only girl on the team surrounded by 16 boys. This proved to be very interesting, to say the least. Many on the team were used to an all-boy locker room, so when Grace joined the team, we made some minor modifications. Additionally many tried to avoid being paired with Grace during drills because they somehow thought it was better to be with other boys. Deep down I think they knew how good she was and they were afraid that she would beat them (and she did). I made sure I paired up with Grace, as I knew it would make me a better player, and boy, was I right.

As immature behavior continued from some of the boys on the team, it really started to wear on me and made me upset. I knew I had to be a leader and leverage the values I learned at home and at my Quaker school. I knew I needed to support all of my teammates, including Grace, and ensure all were treated equally and with due respect. I would purposely seek Grace out on partner drills in practice and regularly sat next to her on the bench and in the locker room. Some of our team members would have get-togethers and, many times, did not include the whole team. I caught onto this pretty quickly and would always include Grace by inviting her over to my house with other teammates. I really enjoyed hanging out with her. The fact is that Grace and I had a lot of the same interests and ideas which made her a really easy person to talk with and get along with. We would watch the Flyers and play hours of knee hockey in my basement. These knee hockey games were always close, competitive games that usually ended with a nail-biting finish. I have never seen Grace as a girl on our team, I have always seen her as a teammate, a friend, and a formidable hockey player. I could easily see that she made me a better hockey player and person.

By the time Grace and I became teammates, I had finished four years of Quaker education. Throughout these years, I learned that everyone is equal no matter their race, religion, gender, or place in society. Growing up with this Quaker value taught me to treat everyone fairly and to stick up for others when they were not being treated well. Being a good teammate to Grace created a prime opportunity for me to live these Quaker values and testimonies.

Grace and I have shared many great memories together over the years. At times, we have been fondly referred to as “Will and Grace” based on the popular sitcom. We also played on many of the same hockey tournament teams, including Team Pennsylvania. On that team, Grace and I participated in a huge hockey tournament called the Brick. Grace was one of three girls out of 224 total players at that tournament, which is a huge accomplishment. We enthusiastically acknowledge and celebrate all of her awesome accomplishments. There is something indescribable about watching your friends succeed.

Last year, Grace participated in a tournament in Quebec on a team called the Hershey Bears. Sadly, we were not on the same team in this tournament because I played for the New York Rangers. Grace again was the only girl on that team, and she again made a huge impact on her team’s success. One of the highlights was when she made the game-winning shootout goal for Hershey, helping her team advance to the next round. Grace has often demonstrated the best forehand to backhand moves in shootouts. Even though this was a remarkable accomplishment, Grace did not brag about it to others, being the humble person that she is. Her humility is something I will always admire.

It is true that girls do not typically advance and make it this far in AAA ice hockey. However, with Grace’s work ethic, talent, physical ability, and mental toughness, she continues to rise to the top of the AAA talent pool. Grace remains one of the best defenders on our team, scoring and assisting consistently. Luckily, her assists are often to me, because Grace and I have developed a great deal of chemistry over the years due to our friendship. Not only does she have a tremendous impact on the ice, but also off the ice with her positive demeanor and attitude.

For many years to come, I will no doubt be one of Grace’s biggest supporters. The day that she makes the U.S. Olympic hockey team, which I am certain she will, I will be the first person to book a flight and buy tickets to cheer her on (hopefully Grace can help a friend out with the tickets part). I will be by her side every step of the way and continue to be her biggest fan. From my friendship with Grace, I have learned that regardless of a person’s gender, race, or religion, every person deserves respect no matter what. We are not all that different. On game days, for example, we all wear the same skates and the same team jersey, we use the same sticks, and we play the same sport.

Today, our team locker room is very inclusive of every member of our team. It is rewarding to think that I may have had a positive impact by rightfully supporting Grace as much as any other teammate on our team. Kindness is contagious. I believe people pick up on these positive actions whether they are willing to admit it or not. No matter what, all teammates deserve respect. I am very proud to call Grace my teammate and, more importantly, my lifelong friend.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post All Teammates Deserve Respect appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Finding My Community

Friends Journal - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 1:50am

I grew up going to a Quaker meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. I never truly liked going to meeting because it always felt way too long. My family and I moved to Pennsylvania about four years ago, and we continued to attend Quaker meeting. One day my mom told me I was going on a Quaker retreat. I remember staring her in the eyes and telling her “no.” We had just moved. Quaker retreats were not new to me, but the people here were. I did not know any children or teenagers my age, and I did not know if any of my current friends were Quakers. On top of not knowing anyone, this retreat was in the middle of nowhere. She proceeded to tell me all about how exciting it was going to be and how I would make some amazing friends and great memories. So I decided out of the willingness in my heart that I would go. The retreat was from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I thought by Saturday morning I would want to be gone, but then I got there and my entire perspective changed.

I was greeted by a very nice woman. She introduced me to her daughter and some of her daughter’s friends. I could tell they all knew each other, which made me nervous because I thought that maybe they would not want to add another person to their little group. The girls started showing me around and told me where to put all my stuff, then we all went outside to go meet the others. Looking back I realize how dumb I was to be nervous—they were the nicest group of people I had ever met. We all hung out like we were old friends, yet it was our first time meeting each other.

Later on, we did team-building activities and played some get-to-know-you type of games. I learned all about how people became Quakers. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s story and to relate to them. It felt like I really knew these people and that I could connect with them on a deeper level. We talked for hours and hours until we finally fell asleep. Then the next day we did it all over again. It felt like no matter how long we had been talking we could still talk for hours more. It was amazing to be able to connect with these people like friends and to relate without truly knowing each other that well. Everyone treated each other with such respect and friendliness, it was absolutely insane.

When we all sang songs around the campfire and talked all night long, I realized how much I appreciated this tight community and how much I appreciated the individuals I was with. I did not need to be on my phone the whole time or talking to my best friend because I was already with a great group of people. I am glad my mom made me go on that trip because it gave me a deeper appreciation for those around me and for the community I have.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

The post Finding My Community appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News
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