PPI – Middle East had the great pleasure of hosting Global Board Member and friend, Chad Ford, and three of his students this past week. Chad is a Professor at Brigham Young University – Hawaii (BYUH) and Director of the University’s McKay Center. He is known for his study of conflict resolution with an emphasis on large group ethnic and religious conflict, as well as for his sports journalism with ESPN. This week’s blog features highlights from an interview with his three students, Caitlyn Nalder, Tenealle Tenwolde and Taylor Rippy, who were given the opportunity to visit the Middle East for the very first time.
Why did you apply to come on this trip with Chad to the Middle East?
Tenealle: I decided to apply for this trip because of the amazing stories Chad has told us about PeacePlayers and my personal interest in conflict resolution. The opportunity to put all my peace building studies to work and really see a different culture. I had to apply!
What did you want to get out of this experience?
Caitlyn: The thing I wanted most out of this trip was being able to spend time with the people, particularly the girls. I wanted to learn from them and in exchange maybe they could learn a thing or two, something small from me.
Can you tell of something that surprised you or what you walked away with after this experience?
Taylor: I reflect back on everything and I can’t believe I was there and experienced what I did. I was so overwhelmed with love for the people I met, specifically the PPI players. I wasn’t even anticipating it, but the first day I walked into the gym where the girls were warming up, I almost exploded into tears. It was the greatest warmth and love that just rushed over me. I truly immediately loved each one of them. And now I’m crying as I write this. The region itself is beautiful and the cultures, the people, the land. I close my eyes and it all comes back. I never want to lose that.
Were there any moments that really touched you in your time here?
Caitlyn: I was deeply touched when walking into the gym with the girls warming up for a game. Music was bumpin’, and the energy was alive. There was a special spirit there. Tears fell down my cheeks and the thought clearly and distinctly entered my mind, “You’re at the feet of heroes here. These girls are going to change the world. Powerful leaders and influences for good are in front of you, stay connected with them. They have a lot to teach you.” From that point on things changed. I couldn’t help but want to get to know them, no matter the language and cultural barriers. At the heart of it all, we are alive, breathing, and people. And above all, we have the capacity to love.
Tenealle: Seeing the biblical sights, the amazing architecture and the religious perspective was amazing and influential. But the moments that really touched me was how we all interacted around the table. The culture of food is so inviting, not only because absolutely everything I ate was delicious but also because it wasn’t just a time to eat together it was a time to share our thoughts and share the joy. We would always share our dishes and exchange our thoughts openly and freely. It was an invigorating feeling and strengthened our relationships and showed how commonalities in cultures can bring us together.