Today’s blog post is written by Will Massey, an American who has been serving in Northern Ireland with Young Adult Volunteers. YAV is a U.S.-based one-year service opportunity for young people, and during his time there, he began to volunteer with PPI-Northern Ireland. He reflects on his experience with PeacePlayers below.
A few times this year I had gaps in my schedule. Tuesday evenings, Saturday afternoons, Monday mornings on occasion. I ran my programs at Whitehouse Presbyterian and I coached in Ballymena on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. What was left was my own time. That is, until Peace Players found a way to fill the slot.
This could sound like a complaint but I promise, it is not. I became a Young Adult Volunteer to have new experiences in new places. And PeacePlayers has delivered. I’ve seen corners of Northern Ireland I certainly would have missed otherwise. I’ve done PeacePlayers programs in Ballymena, Larne, Castlereagh, Antrim, Craigavon, Carrickfergus and, as you might expect, Belfast. Some readers may object that these are not particularly desirable destinations, but part of the wonder of living abroad is discovering new areas, their features and character and expanding your mental map.
On my arrival I was eager to be useful as a member of the PeacePlayers team, and PeacePlayers has been eager to use me. This year was my first experience of coaching, sports development, community relations through sport and non-profit management. These experiences stretched me in new directions and equipped me to serve my communities in the future. And PeacePlayers-Northern Ireland is all about developing and equipping leaders; unfortunately I have a limited shelf life as far as Northern Ireland is concerned.
Of course, Peace Players did not bring me on as a volunteer to challenge me and develop new skills. I’m here to contribute to PeacePlayers’ exciting and expanding project in Northern Ireland. The staff and coaches work energetically to reach more children in more communities, always with their eyes on the prize: a peaceable society in Northern Ireland. And I am grateful that I had an opportunity to make my contribution to such an admirable mission.
Apart from everything else, I am also so grateful for the connections I have made with dozens of coaches and hundreds of children and young people this year. Each of those relationships has been a blessing for me.
Thanks Peace Players!