December marked the end of Claire Perry’s two-year term as a PeacePlayers International Fellow. Claire had had an indelible impact, especially working with PPI-SA’s girls and the development of LDP. Below she shares some final thoughts about her time with PPI: favorite memories, what was difficult, what she learned, and what she will miss.
I haven’t posted in awhile, not knowing how to say goodbye to my time in SA, afraid my words would not accurately describe my feelings of sad separation as I departed my second family and home, Durban, South Africa and PPI-SA. I have spent two years working as a Fellow for the PPI-SA program and never have I experienced a more eye opening, challenging, yet maturing and beautiful two years. I witnessed incredible basketball and mental development within our participants and coaches, traversed the ever expansive and stunning South African country as coach and tourist, and fell in love with the PPI -SA family.
When I arrived to Durban, extremely pale and wide eyed, my first vivid memory is a trip around Durban proper with our HR and Ops Manager, Ryan Douwie. He introduced me to the seven schools I was to work with as the City’s Area Coordinator, a post now proudly captained by my friend and sister, Nasiphi Khafu. Douwie had mentioned that before I completed my two year fellowship at PPI-SA, which at that time seemed like an impossible and far fetched feat, I will have defined this legacy by my first two months in South Africa. My first two months, however, proved extremely erratic while I coached, taught, traveled to every programme area and met every primary and high school participant possible. I befriended our coaches and became close friends with my teammates and office members. In a nut shell, I was all over the place.
As the months passed, I kept thinking of how to define my legacy, though never fully wanted to wrap my head around that last departure day, when my legacy would be set in stone with no more days to help define who Claire Perry was. I thought I should be the people person, always out in the field, trying to teach our players the importance of using their left hand as much as their right, and the importance of gender equity, especially within our programmes’ seven areas. At times, I also thought I should be the tech person, teaching our staff how to type on our generously donated PC’s and lap tops and how to effectively organize meeting minutes. Then again, I also wanted to lead our high school programme and City-Wide Tournament events, to be recognized for having hosted the most effective, yet entertaining, programme and events PPI-SA had ever experienced.
If I had to define my legacy, I would like PPI-SA to remember me for my passion for basketball, my easy acceptance of others and situations and for the giving of encouragement and guidance. The PPI-SA coaches would always comment on my ability to completely switch personalities as soon as I stepped on the court. Known as the nice, accepting, tall white girl in the office, I would become the ‘smart dirty,’ and competitive basketball player as soon as the laces were tied. I would lose myself in basketball drills, practices, and competitions. I rarely yelled at a team or an individual, as my approach to leadership was always through encouragement, to try and fail rather than never try out of fear of failure and disappointment. I always wanted to be known as the girl who could hold her own on the court and would get done what she said was going to get done, while giving others a chance to share their ideas and to lead.
If I have been able to leave such a legacy, then I am proud to have left PPI-SA after my two years, knowing I allowed others to learn, lead and shine within PPI-SA and throughout the greater Durban area in his or her various positions.
These past two weeks spent at home have been tearful, yet refreshing. I know I want to continue working in the sport for development sector, particularly in the operations and programme development sector either in the states or abroad. I fell in love with South Africa, it’s picturesque landscapes and beautiful, accepting people and want to remember my experiences by putting into action what I have learned. Thank you for the opportunity to share two years with a wonderful group of people who have become my second family.