PPI – ME would not be the same without its dedicated volunteers, who give their time and energy to help youth and staff members carry out the many projects that take place during the course of the year. From assisting at bi-weekly practices, to keeping score at the Jerusalem Peace League and running stations at the Spring Tournament, volunteers have contributed in many ways to the success of the program.
Tali Minsberg, a US college student studying abroad for the year in Israel, is currently volunteering with PPI – ME, both in the main office as well as the field. Her duties include helping coach a 7th and 8th grade Girls team each week at the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem. After her first practice with the team, Tali wrote the following piece describing her experience:
“This fall, I am taking on three internships in Jerusalem: writing for the Jerusalem Post, translating and reporting in English for Hapoel Jerusalem, and coaching and doing PR work for PeacePlayers International.
My experience thus far has been outstanding. I have been published in the JPost, translated various pieces for Hapoel (Jerusalem’s professional basketball team), and done research and grant writing for PeacePlayers.
But it was a group of 12-year-old girls that gave me the most wonderful experience I could imagine. Yesterday, in a Jerusalem gym, I helped coach 11 Jewish and Arab girls. And the experience can be described with one word: normal.
The enthusiastic team is one of many in PeacePlayers International – Middle East, an organization that unites children together under the premise that children that play together can learn to live together.
The girls bounced around the gym excitedly – working on layups, doing drills, and scrimmaging. It was the scene of any basketball practice; screeching shoes, high fives, and of course, the holiest sound of them all, the swoosh.
There were no divisions, no cliques, no awkward exchanges. They were simply a group of girls that wanted to play some basketball.
Half way through practice, we took a water break. Only then did I notice a slight difference. A handful of girls were not drinking any water due to Ramadan.
As an athlete, I completely understand the unity and camaraderie that comes with athletics. The universal language of sport is something I strongly believe can change the way we think of one another.
Watching the girls play together was nothing out of the ordinary. And that is how I know PeacePlayers is succeeding.”