Megan Lynch, from Albany, New York, joined PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) at the beginning of August. Here, she reflects about her first month on site.
This week marks my first month here at PPI-NI. Already it has begun to feel natural to wake up to the morning bustle in Belfast. Rain or (hopefully) shine, it is always great to get into the office to start off the day. Since arriving, I’ve been plenty busy with the Belfast Interface Games (BIG) in early August, a weekend training residential, and scattered classroom visits to set up twinnings in schools.
Apart from learning to drive on the left side of the road and learning how to navigate Belfast, getting the lingo down was right up there on my “to-do” list. One of my prized possessions in the office is a handy “PPI-NI Dictionary” given to me by local Project Coordinator, Joanne Fitzpatrick. I have taken to quizzing people on entries such as “Sit Down Clown,” “Sectarianism” and “Not On My Team.” Designed as a tool for coaches, the dictionary breaks down key local terms.
The week before last, Darryl Petticrew, Chris Schumerth, and I coached at a Game of Three Halves (rugby, soccer, and Gaelic football) camp where we rounded out the group by delivering basketball and community relations sessions. PPI global board member Keith Horn and his two sons, Mike and Brian, jumped right into the action on their visit. The kids absolutely adored the Horns and peppered them with questions such as “Are you on Team USA?” or “What’s it like in America?”
In one game, Brian joined in so the kids could play a game of 5-on-5. After a few minutes, one of the kids asked Brian, “How can you be so good?” Brian then jokingly replied: “I’m American.” Having attended a community relations station earlier, the boy retorted: “Hey, that’s discrimination!” We all laughed, pleased to see that they were taking our discussions to heart. Throughout the week we discussed diversity, prejudice and stereotypes, which gave the kids an opportunity to see how sport can either reinforce or mitigate prejudice and stereotypes.
On the last day, PPI-NI board Chairperson Trevor Ringland congratulated the campers on a great week. Speaking an Olympic torch in hand, he told the campers that what matters most is being a good teammate and doing your best. It was a great way to end the summer and transition into the twinning season.