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An Incredible Weekend in Ghana with PeaceJam

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I first started working with PeaceJam in 2014 when I learned of the incredible work the organization does with youth around the world. It brings Nobel Peace Prize winners to teach and inspire today’s youth in becoming leaders and creating positive change on a global level. I first went to Accra, Ghana, last year to attend a PeaceJam conference and had an incredible time. So I was so exited to fulfill my promise to the kids and go back — this time for a full PeaceJam conference with Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee.

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This PeaceJam conference of more than 350 students was incredibly inspiring.

This PeaceJam conference in Accra was the second of five conferences that TPG is sponsoring this year as part of Points for Peace. Our first was Guatemala with Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum, and coming up we’ll be heading to South Africa, India and East Timor. So far, Points for Peace has raised a total of $209,864 and 681,346 points and miles that has gone directly to fly Nobel Peace Prize winners and PeaceJam employees all over the world. I’m absolutely thrilled with the overwhelming response we’ve gotten from readers with all of your donations — thank you so much. Don’t forget that you can still donate.

The day before this conference started, we took to traveling to several schools that were participating in the conference throughout the city of Accra. It was great to see the setting where these kids go to learn on a daily basis and was a magnificent precursor to what was to come in the next two days at the PeaceJam conference.

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We traveled to several schools that were participating in PeaceJam before the conference started.

This year’s Ghana PeaceJam conference did not disappoint. I took Kate and Cliff from the TPG team with me, as well as my parents for the trip of a lifetime. We spent the weekend at the University of Ghana with 377 students from 11 schools, 20 teachers, 30 mentors and Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, who received the award in 2011 for leading a women’s peace movement that helped end the Second Liberian Civil War. Leymah’s teachings throughout the conference were incredibly inspiring, and I think all of the kids in attendance walked away with a wealth of knowledge to bring to their communities.

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Everyone left the conference feeling incredibly inspired.

TPG reader John M. Phillips won our CharityBuzz auction and accompanied us on the trip. It was great having him tag along — he participated in the group activities all weekend and came away just as inspired as everyone else.

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TPG reader John M. Phillips accompanied us to the PeaceJam conference.

The conference itself included events like workshops, a talk by Leymah and a ceremony of inspiration. The ceremony of inspiration was a really moving experience where the kids were encouraged to talk about what inspires them.

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We lit candles in the shape of a peace sign during the ceremony of inspiration.

We lit candles and, overall, it was a very moving experience. Each PeaceJammer would come up to the stage, share what inspires them in front of their peers and I would light a candle with them that was added to the peace sign.

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I lit every PeaceJammer’s candle when they would come up for the ceremony of inspiration.

We then ran a “Shark Tank”-inspired workshop with the kids, which was so much fun. We broke down into groups, each tasked with coming up with a business idea that would be profitable and give back to the local community — it was amazing to see so many minds at work in how they can best bring good back to their communities.

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My parents got into the “Shark Tank”-inspired activity, working with different groups of kids.

Kate and Cliff from the TPG team joined in and listened to some of the groups’ “Shark Tank”-esque pitches.

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Kate and Cliff joined in on the “Shark Tank” action.

TPG reader John M. Phillips also joined in. Everyone got really excited about their ideas and sharing them with the larger groups. It was a great way to end an amazing weekend.

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Everyone was very involved in the “Shark Tank” activity and got really excited about it.

After two days full of enlightening ideas, fun-filled memories and inspiring messages, I was already thinking about my next trip back to Ghana for my third PeaceJam conference. Every time I attend one of these PeaceJam conferences, I’m so in awe of the impact they have on the hundreds of kids in attendance. The kids themselves make the whole conferences so much fun — they changed my life. I really can’t wait to go back again.