Meet the PeacePlayers-Cyprus Volunteers!

PeacePlayers International—Cyprus (PPI-CY) recently welcomed two new additions to our team for the summer! Onat Ataman and Annita Vaspi are our two young volunteers who will join us twice weekly in the office during their summer vacation from high school. Their first task after joining PPI was to share a little about themselves through this weeks’ blog. Please join us in welcoming them into the PeacePlayers extended family!

Today we began work at PPI-CY and were asked to interview one another to get to know each other and so you can get to know us. We both go to the same school and this will make our work easier as we can see each other in the office as well as at school in the fall.

Onat Ataman

Onat, one of our PeacePlayers joins us as a volunteer during summer break

Onat, one of our PeacePlayers participants, is joining us as a volunteer during his summer break

Hello, my name is Onat and I’m 16-years-old. I live in the north part of Nicosia and I go to the English School, Nicosia. By working in the PPI-CY office, I hope to learn how NGOs work and learn more about the work of PeacePlayers off the basketball court. I have been involved in this organization for three years and have learned many things with their aid. I remember the first day that Adam and Gunnar (the two previous American PPI Fellows) came to our school and I remember the speech they gave to us. They said, “PeacePlayers is not just playing basketball; it is also bringing two communities together.”  I wanted to be a part of this organization because I understand what PeacePlayers does and how important it is to take part in this kind of organization.

After practicing for three years with PPI-CY, our coaches chose me to take part in a tournament in Norway, so in April, 12 of us players (six Turkish-Cypriot and six Greek-Cypriot) and four coaches went to Norway. We worked hard and had the will to win all of our games, but unfortunately we lost the final game and earned 2nd place in the tournament. That trip to Norway taught me again to share, to respect people, to develop friendships, and most importantly, trust between each other. Although my teammates had different ethnic backgrounds, I think this trip to Norway awarded me with very good friends and I’ve seen again that the fact that we have different backgrounds shouldn’t hinder us from building our friendships.

The reason I started working here as a volunteer is because of an organization called ‘Duke of Edinbourg’ which requires you to do a service for an organization. I’m hoping to gain experience with doing some office work here and see how PPI-CY arranges tournaments, events, etc., and assist them in making these happen.

Annita Vapsi

Hi, my name is Annita. I am 17-years-old and a student at the English School, Nicosia. I live in Nicosia, in the south part of Cyprus.

Annita our new volunteer at PeacePlayers-Cyprus

Annita, our new volunteer at PeacePlayers-Cyprus.

I primarily joined PPI-CY to gain experience on what it is like to work on a team with people I don’t really know and who come from different places. For example, in my one week here I’ve met Ashley and Stephanie and today, Onat. Being here, for me, means getting to know the other side of the story. I’ve always heard stories from relatives and friends of what their experiences were from the war, but I’ve always known that there is a second one that nobody will tell me and so I need to find out on my own. And in the case of Cyprus, by two stories I mean both the stories of the people who live in the South and the people who live in the North. So, I am here to join the pieces of the puzzle in my mind.

Here I can both learn and teach. I will learn how to work with people I’ve just met and finally answer the questions I have had in my 17 years of living here. Moreover, I can provide PPI-CY with new, fresh ideas. Now, with the help of Onat, we can join ideas and make thing work easier.

Joining PPI-CY is not just about me; I am looking forward to changing my country, as well. The old belief that people from the two communities (Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot) cannot work together sounds ignorant to me. In my opinion, by working together we can achieve anything we want, including peace.

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