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Peace by PEACE Volunteer Co-Director Devon Franklin

 

As a fellow student at University of Toronto, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to juggle a hectic class schedule and hours of school work, not to mention a part-time job and extracurricular activities to boot! That is why I am absolutely thrilled to mention a very well-accomplished student at UofT as a Campus Celebrity, who not only manages to kick butt in school but also take part in a very admirable extracurricular endeavor. In an exclusive interview, I was fortunate enough to get to know Devon Franklin, the Volunteers Co-Director of the not-for-profit organization Peace by PEACE.

1.      Tell us a little about Peace by PEACE.

Peace by PEACE is a not-for-profit organization run entirely by university student volunteers that is dedicated to peaceful conflict resolution. Our program delivers to elementary students in the Greater Toronto Area an innovative 12 week curriculum that provides them with the tools necessary to prevent violent situations in a friendly and engaging classroom setting.

 

2.      How do you go about educating students on peaceful conflict resolution?

We challenge our students to evaluate their lives and social interactions with a Peace by PEACE frame of mind. They learn to identify and de-escalate conflicts using powerful I Statements, exude radiant superstar Inner Power when faced with bullying behaviour and embrace the similarities and differences of their peers with compassion and empathy. Through their participation in games, role-playing and arts and crafts activities, our students develop critical thinking skills to evaluate media messages and brainstorm ways to foster community in a classroom, school, neighbourhood and global context.

 

3.      Who is responsible for running the organization?

Peace by PEACE is made possible by a group of outstandingly dedicated and passionate university volunteers who not only deliver our curriculum to elementary students, but are also responsible for ensuring that the program operates smoothly. Year after year, our executive team works tirelessly to implement innovative strategies to market, fundraise, event plan and recruit members to our cause.

Since its inception in 1997, Peace by PEACE Toronto has been able to assist more than 6000 students in its mission for peace. Each year, we work to extend our reach in an effort to minimize youth violence.

 

4.      What is your role within Peace by PEACE?

Currently, I am the Volunteers Co-Director for Peace by PEACE, responsible for the recruitment, training, and communication with the student volunteer base. It is an incredibly rewarding experience, and has provided me with the opportunity to get to know amazing students from diverse academic backgrounds. In addition, I teach the program in a grade five classroom, with two other fantastic volunteers. Being in the classroom on a weekly basis really provides student volunteers the ability to build meaningful relationships with students and see their efforts really impacting the next generation of problem solvers. 

 

5.      How has being involved with Peace by Peace positively impacted your life?

This is my third year volunteering with the program, and my second year on the Executive Committee. In first year, I was looking to get involved in a program that would provide me with a regular commitment in a classroom setting, and an opportunity to meet and make friends with like-minded students. Peace by PEACE provided me with that opportunity, and I have had the opportunity to touch the lives of grade five students, and make valuable friendships with fellow students from a variety of backgrounds, broadening my outlook on the university experience.  

 

6.      How can being involved with an organization such as Peace by PEACE benefit a University of Toronto student, and how would one go about joining?

Peace by PEACE can provide university students the opportunity to develop skills that are relevant to diverse discipline and career goals, such as public speaking, time-management and teamwork skills. Furthermore, it offers students the chance to meet and make lasting friendships with amazing students dedicated to improving the Toronto community. I was a commuter student my first year, unsure of what I intended to pursue after my B.A.; moving into my fourth year, I am more focused, I have an amazing group of friends, and supportive community of peers, all of which came from my involvement with Peace by PEACE.  Regardless of your year of study, program or career aspirations, students of all walks of life are welcome at Peace by PEACE, and I encourage any interested student to e-mail [email protected] for more information. It is truly humbling to be a part of a student-run organization striving for change!

Pamela Ballares is a second year student at the esteemed University of Toronto, pursuing a double major in both Book and Media Studies and English. In addition to online shopping, applying nail polish and catching up on missed television episodes, you're most likely to find Pamela excitedly reading a recent buy from the bookstore or tirelessly obsessing over a sentence in one of her various short stories. Pamela aspires to be employed at one of the glossy magazines she peruses so frequently, but as of now she is content providing you excellent customer service as a Sales Associate at her local part-time occupation. Feel free to follow Pamela’s personal photography album via Instagram @serallab!
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