Happy Thanksgiving from PeacePlayers International!

An Israeli and Palestinian girl play together in PeacePlayers International’s Middle East program

This week, as families across the United States are buying their turkeys and preparing their stuffing, children from around the world continue playing basketball for peace. Right now, PeacePlayers teams in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus and the Middle East are participating in practices and games that are laying the groundwork for a more peaceful future. At the heart of everything PPI does are the values of teamwork, cooperation and togetherness, similar to the values at the center of one of the United States’ most celebrated holidays. Thanksgiving is a time when friends and family come together to celebrate the things that are most important to us, and show appreciation for the things that are good in our lives.

Thanksgiving is a holiday not known to many outside our borders, but its sentiment can be appreciated by everyone no matter where you are from. For the past two years PPI Fellows, Adam Hirsch and Gunnar Hagstrom, celebrated thanksgiving to with the PPI coaches and staff in Cyprus. Here is a paragraph from a blog written by Adam about his Thanksgiving experience in Cyprus over 2 years ago:

Thanksgiving celebration with the PPI – Cyprus family

After some laughing and lots of wine, everyone sat down together and ate. As I looked around the table I saw Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots, the backbone of PeacePlayers-Cyprus, all sitting and eating together, discussing and laughing about the similarities and differences between their cultures. Even though I was far away from my home in San Francisco, I was eating with my Cypriot family, full of many unique characters to write home about. It was a very special night that I will never forget.

But as we give thanks, we should also remember those who are not as fortunate. When many of us have friends and family living through dangerous times, it is important to give an extra special thanks to those who are working against incredible adversity to try and create a more peaceful future for all people. As long as there are children growing up in societies stuck in the cycle of violence and hate, PPI will continue to work to break the bonds of prejudice. So from everyone at PeacePlayers International around the world, have a happy Thanksgiving!

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