Huskies with Heart: Student hopes peace games bring future social change

Huskies with Heart: Student hopes peace games bring future social change

By Kate Augusto

Children learn reading, writing and arithmetic in elementary school, but there are rarely classes on how to be a good friend or how to work toward world peace. Middler international affairs major Alex Alvanos is working to fill that gap. Alvanos is expanding classroom borders through his group, Social Change through Peace Games.

Social Change through Peace Games, while not yet officially a student group, is a Northeastern branch of the national non-profit organization Peace Games.

Peace Games, started by a Harvard graduate 15 years ago, pairs K-8 schools with community members in various cities. In a three-year program, members teach students once a week about topics like why individuals are special and social justice.

The first half of the year is dedicated to teaching lessons based on a Peace Games curriculum. The second half of the year is focused on community service learning, in which children have done everything from raising money for Hurricane Katrina victims to writing a rap song about Peace Games, selling it and giving the money to non-profit organizations.

“One of our mottos is that we plant the seeds for a better tomorrow,” Alvanos said. “You definitely see a change in the kids. We start them in kindergarten so that by eighth, 10th or maybe 12th grade, you see a change based on what they learned when they were younger. You see a change now too, whether it’s on a small scale or a big scale.”

Alvanos said volunteers also experience a transformation. He remembers one volunteer who exceeded his required volunteer hours but continued to help because “it changed his life.”

Alvanos became involved in the program during his co-op last year with the Stride Rite program at Northeastern, which funds five students to do community service.

Alvanos worked in Roxbury’s Maurice J. Tobin School, which is in its third year of the program. To ensure sustainability at the Tobin school, Alvanos recruited 11 Northeastern students to participate in Peace Games there, bringing new elements like a Peacemaker of the Month program, where one student who exemplifies being a peacemaker is honored.

There is also a faculty Peacemakers of the Month, in which students vote for two teachers who they see as peacemakers.

Alvanos said he plans to have his group work with other schools in the future.

“The main goal is to implement a program that Northeastern students can expand on when actual Peace Games staff leave the school,” he said.

Alvanos said his interest in the program has taken off since he first got involved.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he said of his beginnings at the program. “It just sounded fun, but after the first two months

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