Project Spotlight

Let's Talk Peace - Amanda Haydar

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Amanda could hear the catastrophic explosion from her bedroom. That's how close she was to the devastation that happened on August 4, 2020, when a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

When the dust settled, Amanda watched as thousands of her fellow citizens took to the streets to clean up the rubble, lend a hand to rescue missions, help victims and work to rebuild their country. It was a moment of both revelation and inspiration. Lebanese citizens, who for decades have been mired in sectarian conflicts and struggling with governments that fail to address the basic needs of the people, came together, despite their differences to build a better, stronger Lebanon.

Leading the rebuilding efforts were young people, who like Amanda, grew up in a divided Lebanon but were rarely asked about their thoughts and ideas. There weren’t many platforms that celebrated the voices of Lebanese youth and took them seriously. Amanda knew she wanted to create a space for young people to have meaningful dialogue. This is when she created her Peace First project, a podcast called Let’s Talk Peace, to amplify the voices of young changemakers. “I believe effective communication is the backbone of peace, and dialogue is the gateway to empathy and communication,” says Amanda.

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So far, Amanda has created over 15 Podcast episodes each featuring changemakers from a different country and covering different social issues. Let’s Talk Peace is all about motivating youth “to look outside the boxes of their own thinking.” The conversations are meant to challenge young leaders to think about how to create change in their communities through creative problem solving, empathy and critical thinking and to showcase youth already doing the work. 

With a mini grant and coaching from a Peace First mentor, Amanda is getting the support and building the skills she needs to create and manage a podcast. On her experience running the podcast Amanda says, “I've learned the importance of meeting people where they are. One cannot force a belief or an opinion onto another person. What you can do however, is present them with information and ideas. It is ultimately up to them to choose to integrate the information or not.” Yet, the fact that they’re willing to have a conversation, to entertain different perspectives, is a first step towards change."