New fellow Ashley Johnson arrived this past Friday at the Larnaca Airport in the early hours of the morning just before the Cypriot sun decided to rise over the mountains and pave the way for a new fellow to start work. Tired from a long journey all the way from Colorado, Ashley brings with her a large amount of professional level experience, including a two year position in the Peace Corps in the West African country of Cameroon, where she worked as a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer. Ashley graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Economics and Business, where she also the captain of the varsity basketball team. Members of the PPI office are excited to have someone who not only is an expert in basketball but also in the field of international development.
The breadth of members of the global business of humanitarian aid and international development vary in skill set and identity. Many members are doctors, engineers, or development specialists. While skills and identities tend to be vast in variety in aid and development, it is apparent that someone with such experience as Ashley and her impressive work in the field is extremely valuable to any organization. The skills learned in her past experience will undoubtedly go a long way for PeacePlayers Cyprus.
Ashley’s first practice was in Lapta, one of the furthest sites from our office. After a lengthy drive on a road squeezed between what looked like an endless stretch of cool blue Mediterranean water and a line of sloping green and grey mountains, Ashley arrived at her first mission “in the field.” She made her way into the small gym and took a brief tour of the surrounding camp grounds: where the water was, where the baskets were, and what the characteristics of the tight indoor court entailed. Soon after, the Lapta children began to pour in from the path leading back to the highway. A full practice heralded a big group of girls led by our coach in Lapta, Zalihe. After smiles and introductions Ashley was tasked with a dribbling station. She handled it with expertise and ease even despite the burdensome jetlag and language barriers. At one point, during a technical shooting drill that commanded everyone’s attention, the PPI staff forgot that Ashley had just arrived and that the possibility that she would need help communicating or simply staying awake loomed heavy on the other side of the dark wood parquet floor. But the possibility proved absent; Ashley was commanding the attention of the girls, doling out orders, running a relay race that had everyone dribbling and giggling all by herself, only hours after having first set foot on the island.
PeacePlayers Cyprus is excited to have Ashley as a fellow for the next two years and looks forward to her contributions.