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Aug 26, 2021

In March we heard from Dara Stepanek about the Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts. She described it as a place where children and teens could “learn by being.” We decided it would be fun to revisit this special place to find out how their summer program, Seeds of Peace, had gone. We are pleased to have one of their summer teachers, Sandra Sarrouf, and two parents, Lata and Grace, and their children, Ivy, Lily and Hugo, all of whom have been supporters of Peace Academy from its beginning. We’ll hear what special summer projects they enjoyed during Seeds of Peace, and how the values and approaches to learning at Peace Academy are unique in children’s education. 




Lata Murti and daughters, Ivy and Lily

Lata Murti, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandman University and a former teacher and curriculum developer for Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts, San Luis Obispo. She is also a writer and community activist in North Santa Barbara County. When she is not teaching, writing, or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her two children—Ivy, age 13, grade 8, and Lily, age 10, grade 5.

Together, Ivy and Lily have completed three summer Peace Academy programs, which appeal to Lily’s enthusiasm for outdoor exploration, Ivy’s interest in mentoring younger children, and their shared eagerness to try new foods and recipes from around the world. 


Grace Yeh and son, Hugo Rippens

Hugo Rippens is a 5th grader at an English-Spanish bilingual school, Pacheco Elementary. He enjoys reading and creating art and music. He is the youngest of three siblings. This summer was Hugo's first time participating in Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts. 

Grace Yeh is lucky to be Hugo's mother. She is also Professor of Ethnic Studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Dr. Yeh teaches Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies courses. She has engaged students and community members in public humanities projects, including a Japanese American oral history project, a Filipino American oral history project, the Re/Collecting Project (, and the Central Coast Covid-19 Snapshots ( She helped to found two research collaboratives at Cal Poly, the Public Humanities Collaborative and the ASPIRE Center (


Sandra Sarrouf - Peace Academy Teacher

Sandra Sarrouf is a cultural consultant, educator and producer committed to building environments of belonging. She received her MA in Cultural Sustainability and BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science with a minor in Global Peace and Security. She offers 20 years of experience in community education and outreach, multicultural programming, and traditional arts. 

Working at the intersection of culture, art and justice, she recently founded Cultural Creations to support organizations who want to build inclusion, equity and belonging into their framework. As a Middle Eastern woman who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age, she works to build bridges across differences, cultivating a deeper understanding of the varied ways we participate in culture. Her radiant joy and deep cultural pride are most evident in the vibrancy she brings working as a workshop facilitator, educator and traditional dance artist.  

Sandra especially loves her summer work with the Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts engaging children to open their minds about the incredible diversity in our communities and world through movement, art, story and dialogue! 



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The People of Faith for Justice Podcast is produced and edited by Jeff Manildi

Music for the People of Faith for Justice Podcast is provided by Andrew Gorman