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Monday, May 23, 2011
I met a girl named Yffka a few years ago. She was a 5th grader at Mother Caroline Academy in Dorchester and I was co-chairing their big Annual Spring Gala fundraiser. She was a headliner in our program - a little firecracker with a bright light and a big heart. Fearless, kind and articulate. A fabulous combination.
I was attending a committee meeting at the school; midway through we stopped and lunched with some of the students. After the meal, the girls straggled out and Yffka was one of the last. She quickly turned back as she exited the cafeteria door and said in her sweet high voice, "Peace, girls!"
The closing remark wasn't extraordinary for her - it's a way the girls from inner-city Boston say "see ya" all the time. But for me, the word Peace stopped time for a moment. Three years later I can still hear her voice clear as a bell.
Driving into MCA, you can't help but notice the many crosses propped up on the sidewalks, a sad reminder of the danger that exists on the streets where these beautiful children play and learn. So that word Peace carried profound meaning. Real meaning. I was sitting in a school smack dab in the middle of one of the tougher neighborhoods in Boston and this sweet young girl was habitually asking for something as simple as peace.
For Yffka, Peace wasn't just a "so long", it was a hopeful message from a bright little girl who deserved, deserves, to be surrounded by love and safety. She delivered the words with perfect conviction, sincerity and fluidity. The beauty of it made me want to replace my own goodbye with the word Peace. But something about the deliberateness of my delivery made it awkward for me, a white girl from the 'burbs. So instead I sign off on emails and such with it - a gentle reminder for me that Peace is an idea worth spreading.