This week’s blog shares the stories Galit and Nisreen, two PPI – ME staff members.
At PPI – ME, the values of intercultural cooperation and camaraderie go beyond our participants; they carry over to families and communities as well. They also ring true for our staff members, with our diverse set of Palestinian and Israeli, coaches, project managers and administrators working together as a team, as a family. Galit and Nissreen, two of PPI – ME’s project managers, are a great example of this. Galit, a Jewish Israeli, and Nissreen, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, are not just coworkers; they are roommates and friends as well.
Nissreen, who hails from the northern city of Nazareth, has been living in Jerusalem since 2004. In addition to being a PeacePlayer, Nissreen is also an artist, having just finished her masters of fine arts, and has exhibited her works all over the world, including Japan, Chile, Sweden and Denmark. If that weren’t enough, she is also trained in animal-assisted therapy. Nissreen, who has just finished her first year with PPI – ME, has observed:
“The most important thing that I noticed about PeacePlayers is that they really impact the kids, more so than my experiences at other places. It’s not just lip service. They’re really working hard to make sure the programs are working. There’s a feeling of family in the organization, and that also helps strengthen the bonds between everyone involved.”
Galit’s hometown is further south, the small agricultural community of Talmei Yechiel. Since childhood, Galit has been active in the Bnei Hamoshavim youth group, and remains involved, mentoring the members of a Bnei Hamoshavim commune. Galit knows first hand about working with people from a variety of cultures, having worked with Bedouin and Ethiopian communities in Israel, and has even volunteered with teens and women in Nepal.
“I came to PPI – ME from a place of education and dialogue,” says Galit,” I thought the most important thing was to talk about things, and I was a little skeptical about the power of sport to make a change, but I learned that the passing of a ball and some direct eye contact can help forge connections that are just as strong or even stronger that sitting in a circle and discussing the issues.”
Galit also said she’s seen a change in the kids: “I saw the self-esteem of the kids rise, while their fear of dealing with the other side lessened. In the beginning some of the new kids, especially the Minis (PPI – ME’s 6-9 year olds), would come up to me and express their fears and the fears of their parents, but with time, the kids started really looking forward to the joint encounters. Kids have even come up to me and told me ‘You know, I have an Arab friend’ or ‘I have a Jewish friend.’” Nissreen and Galit are also more than just project managers, they are also positive role models and friends for all of our kids, and are in the stands at PPI – ME events nearly every single day.