Nearing the completion of our exciting new PeacePlayers’ animations, supported by the Knowledge and Innovation Fund, Stephanie Nicolas and Ashley Johnson of PeacePlayers – Cyprus were presented with the tremendous opportunity to travel to Israel for a Practitioner’s Exchange trip. This past week, the girls spent 6 days visiting different social media, peace building and youth development NGOs in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem to share the videos and receive feedback from well-versed practitioners in the field.
The organizations included:
-Peace Factory, creators of the widely followed social media campaign; Israel Loves Iran
-Kids4Peace Jerusalem, an NGO offering inter-faith and inter-cultural education to Israeli and Palestinian youth
-Windows – Channels for Communication, an NGO that promotes understanding and reconciliation between communities through youth journalism and media related educational programs.
This week we catch up with the girls to gain a bit of insight into their escapades in Israel:
What are some of the key messages you take from your meetings with the NGOs in Israel?
While in Israel, we met with several passionate, successful, ingenuitive organizations with very differing approaches to peace building. The differing approaches and perspectives offered by each organization provided us tremendous feedback both positive and critical in regards to our animation project. The suggestions will guide us in the refinement of our product and creation of the corresponding training modules that will accompany the videos. After showing the videos to these various audiences, including 5 different focus groups with PeacePlayers Middle East participants, coaches and staff, we can confidently say that we have an outstanding engaging product transferrable across various cultures and perspectives.
Tell us about your time with PPI – ME, what is one thing that you would like to implement from the program in the Middle East here in Cyprus?
Our time with PPI – ME was so incredibly valuable. The moment we arrived in Israel we felt welcomed into family, our PeacePlayers’ family. The shared passion for our common mission of uniting youth from divided communities through the game of basketball was evident the moment we stepped foot on the court with their program. One of the things that really marked both Stef and myself from PPI – ME programming was the coaching and leadership skills of the experienced older PPI participants. Several of their LDPers (leadership development program participants) were taking on the role of leading twinnings and mentoring the younger youth. We were so impressed with their passion for the game of basketball and their passion for sharing the mission of PeacePlayers with other youth. We would love to develop some of our young leaders’ coaching skills just as PPI-ME has, and turn our current participants into the future coaches of PPI-CY.
During your time in Israel, did you have any opportunity to explore the country?
Our meetings and time spent at the retreat with PeacePlayers did not permit too much time for exploration, however we took full advantage of the small amount of free time we had. Jerusalem is the most historically rich city that either of us has ever visited. While in Jerusalem we had the opportunity to tour the 4 quarters of The Old City. We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, purported to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The visit was an experience that will last with us for a lifetime.
Any message you would like to share with the PPI – ME family?
Thanks so much to the PPI – ME family for making us feel such a part of their team from the moment we met. We have so much to exchange with one another and we are forever grateful for the experiences we had visiting their program. We only hope to host a few of them in the near future so we can share the same hospitality once they are in Cyprus!