Meet Malak: My Memorable Camp Experience

Malak

“We were all involved and knew our strengths so we encouraged each other and naturally came together as a team.” Photo: Imagine Photography

My name is Malak. I am a 17-year-old Palestinian, and I have lived in Jerusalem all of my life. I have been in PeacePlayers almost 7 years. This summer I got the chance to attend camp at the PeacePlayers site in Cyprus and it was an experience I will never forget.

Camp was very intense. We had a lot of different activities and our days were long and jam-packed.  During the day we had sessions on the basketball court or in the classroom.  In the classroom the staff facilitated sessions where they discussed the different ways people can see one another, with an emphasis on trying to “see people as people,” which is at the core of the PPI curriculum. There was also a big emphasis on identifying leaders and learning how to be a better leader. At night we had similar sessions in addition to free time.

Each night we broke up into our own delegations, which were Northern Ireland, Cyprus,

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Malak with her Israeli Teammate Ophir.

Norway and the Middle East. Each delegation would take time to write in their journals and reflect on the activities from that day.  I was part of the Middle East delegation and on the third night during free time after the delegation meetings, my [Israeli] friend Liraz and I decided to go join some participants from the other delegations that were playing on the soccer field. Liraz and I were nervous to go over and ask to join but they welcomed us and that night turned into my favorite memory from camp. It was difficult to step out of our comfort zone and talk to the other participants but it made the remainder of camp more enjoyable and it became easier to start talking to the participants from the other delegations. On the nights that followed, I met so many funny and interesting people during the free time; I didn’t want to go into my room when it was time for bed because I was having so much fun.

At the beginning of camp we were split into different teams that mixed the delegations together. The staff would observe the teams throughout the day and look for examples of team spirit, communication, playing well together. I was fortunate to have a very well-rounded team that exemplified team spirit, strong basketball skills, great communication, curiosity to learn about each other, and a strong connection. I think our coach played a huge part in helping us to break the ice and come together at the start. We were all involved and knew our strengths so we encouraged each other and naturally came together as a team. I may be a little biased but I think we had the best team and it was awesome to be a part of it!

My biggest take-away from my camp experience was what I learned during sessions in the classroom lead by staff member Nasiphi, which focused leadership, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and overcoming barriers (cultural differences, language barriers, etc).  It helped me to find myself and made it easier to identify where I stand and how to be an effective leader within my community.

I’m so lucky to have had this experience at the camp and would be more than willing to do it again anytime!

Getting to Know PPI-CY Participant Christianna Miltiadous

This week’s blog was written by Christianna Miltiadous, a participant of PPI-CY, about her experience with PPI and starting her new journey of going to college in the USA.

Hey everyone, my name is Christianna Miltiadous (AKA Mush)!

PeacePlayers is a great organization which I had the pleasure of participating in for the past 4 years.  PeacePlayers has given me so many memories and experiences, which I will cherish forever.

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Me and my friends at the Spring 3v3 Tournament (I’m the girl in the blue!)

Now, I am starting a new chapter of my life, college. I’m in the USA attending a college called the County College of Morris in New Jersey.  PeacePlayers helped me a lot, I know some of you who know me won’t believe this, but before PeacePlayers, I wasn’t  sociable, but since I started peace players I have changed completely. I have met lots of coaches and players who are incredible people. PeacePlayers introduced me to lots of friends from both sides, and my two best friends Sophia and Victor. They made me open up, even when I didn’t feel comfortable in some situations; they gave me confidence that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  PeacePlayers has taught me leadership skills, the qualifications to be a good leader and the most important one for me is RESPECT. It doesn’t matter how old is the other person, or where they come from or what religion they have, everyone is equal.  At PeacePlayers, I feel comfortable and wanted. I have changed completely as a person since I started PeacePlayers and I am so grateful to them.

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Post paint and water fight at #PPICamp2k16

This year’s camp was different from other years.  This year we had the pleasure to have PeacePlayers from South Africa, Middle East, Northern Ireland and Norway.  It was great learning about other people’s experiences and what they go through every day, no one knows really know how it is, until they meet a person from that country who faces a conflict.  I met some of the best and funniest people who I will remember forever.  It shows that there a lot of people going through the same problems as you, but someday  we will all overcome them.

I am so grateful to PeacePlayers, because now going to college, I am going to take everything they have taught me and try to apply it and spread awareness for this great organization called PeacePlayers.  It doesn’t matter if I’m on the other side of the world, I still want to be a part of PeacePlayers and help as much as I can.  Because of them I want to pursue something that has to do with helping others that are in need.  I would love in the future to work for them, and help and inspire young people to pursue their dreams no matter how hard they seem.  Thank you PeacePlayers for everything you have done for me! See you soon!

Mush 3

Friends from all over the world!!!

Former NBA and WNBA Players Visit PPI-ME in Jerusalem

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PPI-ME Participants strike a pose with Kelenna Azubuike (NBA), Tameka Johnson (WNBA) and Neil Meyer (NBA).

On July 14 former players Kelenna Azubuike (NBA) and Tameka Johnson (WNBA) came to Jerusalem and did a basketball clinic with the participants of PeacePlayers International – Middle East.  Below is a recap of the event.

PeacePlayers International – Middle East (PPI-ME) had the chance to meet former professional basketball players Kelenna Azubuike (NBA) and Tameka Johnson (WNBA) during their visit to the Middle East.  Kelenna and Tameka spent some time in Jerusalem where they got a chance to

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Tameka brought tons of energy during the clinic!

meet some of the participants and put on a basketball clinic.

Kelenna and Tameka started off the clinic by talking to the participants about the importance of followi
ng your dream, not giving up, and believing in yourself.  They also spoke about the many doors and opportunities that have arisen because of basketball.  Neither of them imagined that they would be traveling to the Middle East and hanging out with our participants simply because of a game they fell in love with at a young age.

After the opening discussion, the participants split into groups and went through different stations.  Kelenna ran a shooting station at one end of the court where he talked about the importance of using fakes and cutting in order to get open for good shots.  At the other end of the court, Tameka ran a dribbling station where she talked about the importance of keeping your eyes up in order to see the entire

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Kelenna and Tameka sign autographs after the clinic 

court and always maintain control of the ball.  Neil Meyer, Senior Director of Basketball Operations for the NBA got in on the action as well and ran a station at half court.
Neil’s station focused on passing and the importance of making good strong passes in order to set teammates up to be a threat to the defense.

The clinic ended with autographs from Kelenna and Tameka and lots of pictures.  PPI-ME really enjoyed meeting both of the players and sharing a little bit of the program with them.

Thank you to the U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem for the continued support and for including PPI-ME be part of such a fun event!

PPI Chair Emeritus Ron Shapiro Talks with WBAL Radio About His Recent Trip to Israel with PeacePlayers

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Ron (2nd from right) with other PPI board members and friends and the PPI-ME LDP program.

This week’s blog comes from PeacePlayers International (PPI) chairman emeritus and legendary sports agent, Ron Shapiro. In a recent interview with WBAL 1090 Radio’s Brett Hollander, Ron shared his experiences with PPI, what he witnessed during his trip to the Middle East, and how PPI-ME is helping to bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians. Click here to listen to the full interview!

Last week PPI-ME hosted a visit for 30 friends and supporters from the United States, including Ron Shapiro, PPI board chairman emeritus and founder of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, for a week of basketball with our kids, geopolitical tours to help contextualize our work and lots of traditional feasts along the way!

Brett: You have just returned from your trip to the Middle East, Explain to us what PeacePlayers is all about.

 

Ron: “Simply put, it’s an organization that uses sport, to build bridges in areas of conflict. We started in South Africa, we then went to Northern Ireland and Cyprus, and we are still in those places. When we went to the Middle East in 2006, our challenge was to find a way to build bridges between Arab and Jewish kids who might otherwise fight with each other, and the result has been inspirational! What we have done, is use the game of basketball, to give these kids the opportunity to get on the court together at a young age and play on mixed teams, allowing them to become friends. I have been around long enough to see the fruits of this work, and that is what PeacePlayers is all about!

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Brett: When kids are told from such a young age that one side is good, one side is bad, and there is a hard line there; How do you break that down?

We try to work with with participants from a very young age, and allow them to experience and learn the sport of basketball. We put them in to activities, more than just games, activities where they are having fun, passing the ball back and forth to each other, learning each others names, laughing and just being kids together, and then we blend them on to mixed teams. An example of the success of this process is with our girls, who won the 17 and under Israeli championship the last year, the only mixed team in the history of Israel to do so! This was a real break through, and furthermore, one of the girls on the team is an Artist who recently had an art exhibit of paintings she did of basketball play. I was showing one of the members of our office today a picture, and the picture was of her Arab and Jewish teammates who were there helping her set up for it, which is exciting because you want it to range past the game and in to their lives.

With conflict, no one wants to acknowledge that peace is possible! You have to build from the bottom up, and hope that you find a way for peace. What PeacePlayers is doing is allowing kids the opportunity to play together, which allows them to learn that they can live together, which is what we are trying to do all around the world!

Link to full interview 

PPI-NI C4Ps meet one of the country’s first Champions for Peace

This week’s blog is written by PPI-NI staff member Laura Agnew.

It’s not every day you get to meet with a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but on Saturday, PPI-NI’s Senior Champions 4 Peace did just that. Mairead Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to the Northern Ireland peace process following the death of her sister as a result of the conflict. Mairead could easily have let the tragic incident surrounding her family affect her attitude to the conflict. She could have been bitter, or even resort to violence herself. But instead, she became one of Northern Ireland’s first true champions for peace.

Following the tragic incident, she and an eyewitness (Betty Williams) joined forces to start a mass peace movement in Belfast. After starting a peace petition, they organised peace marches through the city and set up the organisation, which is today known as The Peace People. Despite being physically attacked during the marches, within one month The Peace People had brought 35,000 people together on the streets of Belfast to promote peace between the two conflicting religions. And 40 years later, The Peace People are celebrating the anniversary of their organisation being started, and looking back at all of the wonderful peace movements they have been involved with since.

 

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Mrs. Maguire shares a laugh with Ciaran

 

On Saturday, a few of PPI-NI’s senior Champions 4 Peace joined the celebrations and got the chance to meet with Mairead. She chatted to them about never resorting to violence as a means to reach peace, and to encourage others to do the same. She exuded an air of love, calmness, and a light, which lit up the room as she applauded the Champions4Peace participants on their courage and commitment to preserving the peace in Northern Ireland through their involvement in PeacePlayers.

 

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Mairead joins C4P’s for a photo!

 

It was such a pleasure for the Champions4Peace to meet Mairead and learn about the history behind the Peace House where the PPI-NI office is located. So we would like to thank her for her time on Saturday, and her contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It’s people like Mairead who are inspiring our next generation of future leaders, and who really are Champions for Peace.

 

Lisa from the USA can’t get enough of South Africa!

 

Lisa and the PPI-SA girls at Shakaland.

(From the left) Lisa and the PPI-SA girls at Shakaland.

This weeks blog is written by Lisa Genovese who is all the way from Geneva, New York. Lisa is also a friend of PPI-SA Senior International Fellow, Sarah Frazier. Lisa recently visited South Africa, and also got to interact with PPI-SA coaches and staff. She reflects on her time in South Africa in this weeks blog.

 

To say my trip to South Africa, Durban, in particular was an unbelievable experience is quite an understatement.

My friend and current PPI-SA fellow, Sarah Frazier, is the reason I visited SA when I did.

I reside in the US where I work for my alma mater with a responsibility in recruiting students for Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS). With this job I spend much of time of the road and tend to continue that wanderlust during my free time.

Having traveled to many parts of the world I found SA to be one of the most memorable experiences.  Coming from a country where material goods are abundant and, in my opinion, sometimes over appreciated –  I was drawn to the simplicity in SA.  My interactions with all the PPI coaches to talking with residents of local townships, even being invited into the home of a new found friend in the Gugulethu outside of Cape Town, has left a positive lasting impression.

The athletic departments and coaches at HWS quickly offered to donate gear for PPI when I shared their mission. HWS is a liberal arts college guided by a curriculum ground in exploration and rigor. The Colleges foster an environment that values global citizenship, teamwork, ethics, inclusive excellence and cultural competence.  My experience in Africa mirrored that of which I have been exposed to at HWS, as both a student and employee.

Lisa facilitating a yoga session with PPI-SA coaches.

Lisa facilitating a yoga session with PPI-SA coaches.

In addition, I had the pleasure of introducing yoga to many of the coaches and a few local children even joined in! I can’t wait to return for the City Wide Tournament in October and, of course,  to have some more of that delicious bunny chow!

Thank you to the people of SA and PPI-SA crew for making my experience so invigorating.  See you soon!

Thank you to Lisa and the Hobart and Williams Smith Collages for all the gear that was donated!

PeacePlayers Has Fellowship Openings Starting In 2017!

fellowSince 2001, PeacePlayers has recruited 90 outstanding post-collegiate scholar athletes as International Fellows to serve two-year terms with its programs around the world. PPI Fellows provide basketball expertise, serve as mentors and role models, and act as neutral facilitators for PPI coaches and participants. Fellows also benefit from an exceptional educational and professional experience and are at the forefront of a worldwide movement to use sport as a vehicle for social change.

Fellow

“As a player and coach I saw first hand how basketball could be used as a tool to bring so many different types of people together. I am extremely excited to be a part of something so special with PPI.”-Courtney Boylan PPI-ME 2014-2015

Upon completing their fellowships, PPI alumni have gone on to careers in fields including finance, technology, sports management, social entrepreneurship, and international development and have attended graduate schools including the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Columbia University Business School, and Tuft’s Fletcher School of Diplomacy. 

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“My time with PPI-SA has taught me lessons of acceptance, hope, and humanity. Sport has a unique and powerful way of teaching these ideas. Through basketball, I hope to continue to teach and inspire. PPI-SA has helped me discover that I will never be done learning and growing through sport.” – Kristin Degou PPI-SA

PeacePlayers has fellowship openings at three of our four international sites starting in 2017. We are seeking applications from former high school and college athletes who are passionate about the opportunity to use sport to make a difference around the world. To apply, click here! Please share with anyone who may be interested and direct any questions to apply@peaceplayersintl.org

i want you for the fellowship!

Ryan Hage a former fellow at PPI-Cyprus wrote about his experience, check out his blog here