Open Hands Initiative

Silver Scorpion is not your average superhero. His crime fighting activities may seem run of the mill for a comic book protagonist, but his story has a twist. Silver Scorpion is a Muslim boy who lost his legs in a landmine accident and is forced to use his mind control powers from the confines of a wheelchair. Silver Scorpion, along with a variety of other cultural, creative, and media based projects, is the work of The Open Hands Initiative. Inspired by the famous pledge by Barack Obama to “extend open hands of friendship and dialogue to all people of the world,” The Open Hands Initiative is a non-profit that aims to improve people-to-people understanding and international friendship. “Diplomacy” is the creed of Jay T Snyder, the founder of The Open Hands Initiative. In October of 2010, Snyder flew to Damascus with 12 disabled Americans to meet with their Syrian peers and create a new superhero. Snyder’s goal was to foster mutual respect between two groups of people that may ordinarily harbor hatred for each other. On May 7th, 2011, Comic book stores gave away thousands of free copies of Silver Scorpion, published in both English and Arabic, courtesy of Liquid Comics. To date, more than 20,000 people have read the comic online. To those at The Open Hands Initiative, and to kids across the world, Silver Scorpion is more than a superhero; “he represents a new phase of US-Arab and Muslim public diplomacy efforts and serves as a cross-cultural hero for the world that promotes tolerance, inclusion and equality.” Since that inaugural project, The Open Hands Initiative has championed a variety of causes. These programs range from facilitating the production, distribution and exchange of local art and music across cultures, to sponsoring journalism fellowships for young students. Student reporters who participate in the Open Hands Fellowship gain real-world experience in countries such as Egypt and Burma. Working with seasoned journalists and experts in media, politics, economics and culture, these students gain knowledge and networking connections. Not only does the program foster budding journalists, it supports democracies in transition by promoting free speech. The Open Hands Initiative does not practice cultural assimilation. Instead, they share the best parts of each society. “In doing so, we enrich each other, deepen our independence and respect, and build a reservoir of goodwill that can withstand even the most fundamental policy differences.” With hope, the reservoir of goodwill promoted by The Open Hands Initiative will bring a more peaceful world in generations to come. – Grace Flaherty Sources: Open Hands Initiative, Huffington Post