Nationwide project soliciting participation from Northfield youth

Photo by Josh Rowan An Iraqi child participates in the War Kids Relief project
An Iraqi child participates in the War Kids Relief project

A Minnesota-based non-profit is spending the next few months partnering children in New York City, Washington D.C., and Northfield with children in Iraq in an effort to build closer ties between the nations.

“We thought about Minneapolis, but decided on Northfield,” said Pam Middleton, executive director of War Kids Relief, which is a program of the Children’s Culture Connection non-profit.

Middleton will help select about two dozen eighth- and ninth-grade students across Northfield to participate. Each child needs to submit an application in school to be considered.

“Northfield is Middle America, but it’s also a special place. The citizens here are so engaged,” she said.

The children Middleton helps select will attend at least three afternoon gatherings in January, February and March at the Northfield Public Library. There, War Kids Relief organizers will help each Northfield teen begin a pen-pal kind of relationship with an Iraqi child. The youth will exchange letters, artwork and videos. The Northfield children will learn about Iraqi culture by hearing stories, playing Iraqi games and eating samples of the region’s food.

Photo by Josh Rowan From left: Dina Fesler, president and founder of Children's Culture Connection; Sandra Halsin; Pam Middleton; and Charles London, author of One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War, pose at last week's War Kids Relief program kickoff event at the Hideaway cafe
Photo by Josh Rowan From left: Dina Fesler, president and founder of Children Culture Connection; Sandra Hakim; Pam Middleton; and Charles London, author of One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War, pose at the War Kids Relief program kickoff event last week.

The mission of Children’s Culture Connection is to “help U.S. kids develop an appreciation for other cultures, to foster cultural awareness within our own multiracial communities and to raise money and awareness to help at-risk children throughout the world,” according to the organization’s Web site.

Examples of the artwork and writing of the participating Iraqi children are hanging in the James Gang Hideaway Coffeehouse and Winebar on Division Street. The first War Kids Relief library meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 10 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Update 11/18 11:30 a.m.: I edited a few grammatical errors this morning and took out the phrase “warring nations” in reference to the U.S. and Iraq.

6 thoughts on “Nationwide project soliciting participation from Northfield youth”

  1. Bonnie,

    I have no idea if the Iraqi children would have any way to access videoconferencing facilities at US bases, but I’d be happy to let the Northfield kids use my videoconferening equipment to connect with them.

    I suppose doing something via Skype would be easier, but, if you can, please let the local coordinators know that I’d be happy to do this.

    Great story!

  2. Okay…I have sent her an email.

    FYI, I did find several stories of various student groups (elementary, college-age, etc) who were able to connect with people in Iraq by videoconference. Often it was with the military or US officials, but not always.

    Say, if anyone knows of anyone from Northfield serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, I’d be happy to let them try to see each other using my videoconference set-up. Again, not sure if the military would make that easy to do or not, but I’m happy to give it a try.

  3. Hi David:

    You wrote Say, if anyone knows of anyone from Northfield serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, I’d be happy to let them try to see each other using my videoconference set-up. Again, not sure if the military would make that easy to do or not, but I’m happy to give it a try.

    Maybe Bonnie, Tracy, Griff and Ross can find a way to promote it a little more here at Locally Grown. Would be a nice holiday gift, if details can be worked out.

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