Chicago-Asia 2014 Peace Exchange combats violence - New York News

Chicago-Asia 2014 Peace Exchange combats violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

There's a growing anti-violence movement, led by young people, who are bringing their message into Chicago classrooms.

In a part of the world where violence and fear are almost the norm, more specifically the Chicago neighborhoods where sirens are the soundtrack, imagine if young people made it a practice to stop and think.

“Everybody inhale…hold it…exhale through your nose," said Jessica Disu, a rapper also known as FM Supreme.

In a class designed to combat violence and promote peace, girls practice relaxation methods.

"This is what we can do to decrease crime, this is what we can do to stop a 14-year-old girl from shooting another 14-year-old girl,” said Dennis Johnson of Chicago State University.

Disu agrees violence in Chicago is out of control.

“And change starts with self, right? So even changing your daily routine, that's part of changing your world. Because the more we grow and change as people, it inspires those around us,” said Disu.

Disu and Johnson are part of the Chicago-Asia 2014 Peace Exchange, a team of college students who traveled to Southeast Asia to learn how people can be peaceful despite poverty and oppression.

“Because in America, how do we deal with our anger? Especially in our communities, either we gonna cuss you out, we gonna fight you, or we gonna shoot you,” said Disu.

"If we understand their difficulties and their sufferings, then we become friends,” said Thai Plum Village of Thailand.

Bringing the documentary of their travels and a "you-can-do" message to students across the city, Johnson and Disu are asking the Young Women's Leadership Academy a tough question.

“So in tenth grade, can you change the world?” asked Johnson.

“I think peace is leadership and being united,” said one girl.

“First being satisfied with yourself and that'll make you get along with others,” said another.

“Questioning and figuring out why you're angry so you can move on from that,” added a third.

Asked to write down the things they believe they can do to create peace, the girls tragically have a fresh example of why their words count.

“Words can make peace, words can create violence. An exchange happened with the young ladies the other day, with words on Facebook, those words led to the young lady being murdered, right?” said Disu.

“I will not give up on my future because my future depends on me,” said a young girl.

I am strong, I am a fighter, I am a peacemaker, I am a leader,” added another.

This Peace Exchange ends with students reminding each other about their power to change the world.

“What we learned in Southeast Asia is that you have to be peace, or embody it, and so we become what we say,” said Disu.

“You’re an amazing person and I love you, and I hope you stay my friend forever,” said one girl to another.

“I think it was a good way to tell each other that you care about each other, and let people know that they're not alone,” said Lexus Serino, a sophomore and part of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School.

"I am (I am!) My sister's keeper (my sister’s keeper!). I am (I am) my sister’s keeper!” chanted the group of young ladies.

“When they say, 'my sister's keeper,' it could be anybody, but you know that we're both human, we both have things in common, we should both find peace with each other and ourselves,” said Anathiel John-Charles, another sophomore.

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