This week’s blog is written by our very own Program Coordinator, Steph Nicolas, who spent the month of June participating in a prestigious Leadership Development program in the United States.
Steph at the Sport and Social Impact Summit.
Some time ago, I received the amazing news that I had been accepted to take part in the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace’s Youth Leadership Masters Program at the IMG Academy in Florida from June 7-19.
On Saturday, June 6, I was about to embark on this new adventure, an adventure that would help me and my organization develop in the field of sport for development and peace.
Little did I know that this unbelievable experience would change my own life forever.
Sitting in a room with 47 charismatic individuals of 30 different nationalities, not knowing anyone or where they were from, it overwhelmed me a bit. So many questions were running through my head: what is happening now? Am I in the wrong place? What do I do? How will I meet all these people? Will I be able to communicate? Or will I even enjoy myself?
Steph and participants posing with NFL Vets Mark Brunell, Henry Lawrence, Hurley Tarver and Kenny Green.
However, all those questions vanished with the help of our great facilitators and the interactions we had between us. I met so many amazing people from around the world, each and every one of them with their own ideas, thoughts, values and perspectives on life and creating change. They made me understand that it’s not always about me, but about us as a team, a family and a community.
Throughout the two weeks that we were at IMG Academy, we tried so many different sports, from baseball, to wheelchair softball, American football, the real football (soccer), wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, basketball, Tae-kwo-do, table tennis, badminton and rugby – sports that we do not have the chance to practice here in Cyprus.
In addition, our great facilitators taught us more about respecting different individual’s values, opinions and ideas, taking risks and challenging ourselves, communicating better, and last, but not least, opening up ourselves to others and showing them who we really are and what we live for in life.
As I sit here on my return flight to Cyprus writing this, I have gotten increasingly emotional. I wonder if the people around me think I’m crazy or something! But I am not a person who usually cries, except for when I watch movies. It was a great pleasure meeting so many amazing people and collaborating with each and every one them. It is my honor to call them my friends and family, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone hopefully soon. This was not a goodbye, but only the beginning of something bigger.
Steph and candidates at a conflict resolution seminar.
I would like to thank UNOSDP, Global Action Initiatives and IMG Academy for providing us with this amazing experience and for giving me and my fellow participants the opportunity to meet and be trained by so many amazing people and organizations.
Thank you for an unbelievable experience that will be in my heart forever.