Updates and some end-of-the-year Reflections!

Hey everyone! First I want to thank everyone - including folks from Yemen, Denmark, Syria, the UAE, all over the U.S. and even Australia! - for signing our first ever petition marking the 1-year anniversary of U.S. and Yemeni government-led raids and missile strikes that killed and injured Yemeni civilians on December 17, 2009. Part of our mission is to show the U.S. government that WE ARE PAYING ATTENTION, so we all greatly appreciate those who took the time to sign! Governments absolutely depend on the indifference, fear and apathy of their citizens to pursue war, and I feel that we are playing a small but important role in showing them that peace and dialogue is the best strategy. Second, Will and I were given the opportunity to introduce the board members of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding (located at the University of California, Irvine) to the YPP yesterday! The members of the CCP are one of the most impressive groups of compassionate, generous and engaged pro-peace activists and scholars I have ever met, and their work spans from Georgia to the West Bank. They asked wonderful questions and were VERY encouraging of our work as well. IMPORTANTLY - some of the faculty at the CCP are engaged in the very kind of cross-national dialogue that we are promoting through our Pens for Peace program, so there may be opportunities for expansion and collaboration there!  I will keep you posted on how this plays out, and I am very excited about it. Happy holidays to us!  :)

Third, I just want to state for the record how proud and honored I am to be a part of this organization. I have not always been able to dedicate as much time as I have wanted to it, especially since I began a full-time PhD program this fall. But I am so lucky that my colleagues Will, Tiffany, Ahmed and Aliya are so brilliant, so dedicated, and so full of ideas! Huge props to our co-directors for the work they have been doing. We have accomplished a lot (and received media attention!) and are going to keep going. I really must give special kudos to Will -- I see him work on the YPP every single day, and often late into the night. He has been a visionary for this group, and relentless in his dedication to pro-peace activism.

Don't forget to sign the petition if you haven't already, and to check out the feature on the Yemeni artist below!  In the new year, if you want to get more involved, contact us - we would love to have you! Happy holidays to everyone.