|Program:||Interracial Sisterhood Project, Hayward and Los Angeles, CA|
|Contact(s):||Christine Froelich, Northern California Chairwoman: (510) 782-1770, or Sheri Rueter, Southern California Chairwoman: (626) 395-7491|
|Purpose:|| To bridge the gap between races by initiating and supporting personal friendships among women of all ethnic backgrounds |
From 1995 through 1996, the Women's Federation for World Peace, a non-government agency in general consultative status at the United Nations, sponsored a series of International Women's Friendship Conferences. Based on their experience with the unique and profoundly moving "Bridge of Peace Ceremony," a committed group of racially diverse American women formed an ad-hoc committee to create the Interracial Sisterhood Project (ISP). (The "Bridge of Peace Ceremony" is a symbolic event involving women learning to trust and understand each other.)
In the "Bridge of Peace Ceremony," participants in the sisterhood ceremonies cross a beautifully crafted bridge. As they approach each other on the bridge, they bow to each other as a symbol of their commitment to healing the painful history of their respective races, cultures and nations. Then they embrace in an act of forgiveness and descend the steps united as "sisters." Crossing the bridge is often a transformational experience that creates a safe environment for open dialogue between new partners. Through workshops, seminars, speakers and publications, the ISP acts as an educational resource for racial harmony. Women also participate in a variety of projects together, from welfare reform fundraising to breast cancer research. The Interracial Sisterhood Projects' ad-hoc committees continue to meet once a month. At least twice a month, the program attracts requests for speakers from local television and radio programs, Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, high schools and community organizations.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
ISP sponsored more than a dozen conferences throughout California introducing the interracial "Bridge of Peace Ceremony" to professional women, women in high school, the elderly, a national Native American conference and in co-sponsorship with cities, school districts and other community organizations. Their efforts are completely volunteer-based, and all funds were raised by the women themselves. More than 1,500 women have participated in the "sisterhood ceremonies" over the past two years in California.
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