Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


From A State Of Strife To A Place Of Peace

By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published July 5, 2007

Summertime is here and school is out once again, but for three students leaving the sixth grade, their lives will always remain inextricably intertwined. Muslim boys Haroon Sangar of Afghanistan and Paywand Sofy of Iraq and Patience Karnanue, a Christian girl from Liberia, come from places of upheaval and strife.

For the last few years the International Community School, Decatur, has been their educational refuge and their place of peace. William Moon, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, is the school’s principal and founder. Moon opened the school (K-6) nearly five years ago and said, “Our stated mission is to serve children and families who come from war-torn countries, as well as local American children in approximately equal numbers.”

Haroon, Paywand and Patience are just three of the approximately 330 children from over 40 different countries at the school. While attempting to provide an academically challenging and nurturing environment, Moon stated, “Our vision and emphasis is on building and creating a true community spirit amid all this wonderful diversity. Our vision is to create the ‘Beloved Community’ that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke so eloquently about.” Moon said the International Community School also places an emphasis on understanding others and developing appropriate responses to conflict and problems.

For these students the key to their success has been an ability to not only learn from the other students around them but to learn about them—their cultures, their history and their religions. Next school year Haroon will move on to The Lovett School, Paywand will attend Freedom Middle School and Patience will go to Clarkston Junior High School. Hopefully they can take what they have learned from the International Community School into their new and future environments and grow up to be adults who are tolerant of other adults with differences. Even as children they hold the potential to help make this world a better place.