by Katharine Shapleigh
“Baby you’re a fireeeeeework, come on let your colooooors burst!”
It’s Tuesday, our day of tourism in Boston, and every one of our 75 participants from around the world congregated in Jimmy’s Brick Oven Pizza is throwing their hands in the air to Katy Perry’s hit song, Firework. It’s been a day full of activities– from a personal address by Vicky Kennedy to our own Flash Mob in the middle of Boston’s Long Wharf. Six days into Project Common Bond, the feeling in the room is unforgettable. Participants, staff, interns, and facilitators jump up and down and shout out the words to the song– celebrating community, strength, and life itself.
“Baby you’re a fireworkkk, come on show ‘em whaaaat you’re wooorth!”
As an intern for the summer, this week has really demonstrated Tuesday's Children's mission to provide support through the healing process for individuals that have lost loved ones to terrorism. It was so rewarding to see Kathy, Candy, Chrissy, Paige, and so many others' hard work create such an essential community for these young adults-- One participant I met who lost his father in 9/11 said at Project Common Bond he could finally be himself among peers that shared a common bond of loss.
Youth from conflicts such as Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland and Ireland that have gathered together in search of understanding, peace, and the restoration of dignity now form a congo line across a pizza restaurant and laugh as they hoist a smaller Israeli participant on their shoulders. I am touched that their experience of loss has not led to hatred, but to hope for a more peaceful future.
Looking back at the dialogue and laughter shared over the 9 days of Project Common Bond, I am coming to understand the significance of the Survivor Tree at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, adopted as part of Project Common Bond’s logo. Terrorism– the loss and the lasting impact it has made on their lives– happened. But, somehow, this community continues to live and grow tall, shaping their own futures as peacebuilders. Witnessing this courage and will to do good, I leave humbled and inspired. Thank you to Tuesday’s Children, facilitators, donors, and especially the participants, for showing me the way we can support one another and seek an end to both violent conflict and its legacy through dignity, community, and a touch of grace.