This week we are happy to welcome a new intern to PeacePlayers Northern Ireland: Kate Ray. Below is Kate’s introduction and a description of her initial feelings about being a new member of the PPI family.
My name is Kate Ray and I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am currently studying Political Science, International Relations, and Global Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I just completed a semester abroad in Haifa, Israel at the University of Haifa studying Peace and Conflict Resolution. I’m so excited to be joining Peace Players-NI for the next two months as I observe and learn from the way they carry out their inspirational work.
I first began working with the concept of peace education after my first year of high school when I participated in the Ulster Project Milwaukee. The Ulster Project is an international exchange program that works to promote peace and reconciliation between Northern Irish Catholic and Protestant youth. Since that experience I have had a deep connection with Northern Ireland as well as peace education.
I’m truly fascinated by the work that Peace Players-NI does, and the way that they incorporate sports into the peace building experience. Never before had I thought that basketball could be the catalyst of bridging two divided communities. This past week I was able to participate in a twinning event and was so pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm, warmth, and welcoming that I received from the kids. It was wonderful to watch them work together as a team, regardless of religion or family background, towards a common goal of making their team the best it could be.
I was also able to join a residential this past weekend and work with girls who have graduated the Peace Players program and are looking to be coaches. I learned so much from them as we worked through community relations activities. I was inspired by their dedication to the program and eagerness to stay involved throughout the years.
I am thrilled to be observing Peace Players-NI in their work this summer. I have been here only a week, and I already feel at home. Within this past week I’ve learned so much about the conflict, the city of Belfast, and the teachings that this organization does. It has already been such a learning experience for me, and I cannot wait to continue learning for the next two months.