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At Puerta Joven,  we knew Peace One Day was coming soon, and we wanted to do something special: to build harmony in the community we serve.

  

Mexico City is one of the richest cities in the world, but also one with the most income inequality. Iztapalapa is a district of Mexico City, and though it has a violent reputation, it is also home to many indigenous people from many diverse backgrounds.

For Peace One Day 2013, we brought together the youth of Itzapalapa to produce a short film using their smartphones,  and asked them what message they wanted to convey. The program was modeled off of our "Lenguas Jóvenes" project, which won the Intercultural Innovation Award from the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), in partnership with the BMW group. This is just one of the ways the UNAOC has been supporting intercultural dialogue in Latin America. The UNAOC has worked with the area since 2010, and to make sure that they best support the unique needs of each country and city, their regional and national strategies were developed by partners based in each respective region. Their national strategy for Mexico can be found here

When presented with this project, the students from Itzapalapa decided they wanted to show that many hard-working, peaceful families live in Itzapalapa, and that they were proud of their cultural diversity. “We have a carnival full of tradition and color, and celebrations which are recognized internationally as being as unique as the Day of the Dead,” said Maria Del Carmen Solis, one of the young girls who joined the program. “We are peaceful people and we want to share that with the world.”

And so, just a few days before Peace Day, young people from different cultural backgrounds ran through teamwork exercises, drama, and confidence-building exercises. They then worked together to script, film and produce “Itzapalapa is Peace”, about how young people can create change through creativity to support inclusion and peace. The group also got the chance to explore how new technologies (in this case, smartphones and YouTube) are tools for empowerment, particularly to communicate idea of hope in a lasting format.

Puerta Joven is a youth led organization promoting cultural diversity and peace across the young people in Latin America. www.puertajoven.org. This blog post was written by Aldo Arce Gurrola, the Executive Director of Puerta Joven, winner of the UNAOC 2012 Intercultural Innovation Award.