We are in retreat season here at PeacePlayers International – Middle East. Two weekends ago, we were in Eilat with the Jerusalem All-Stars. This past weekend we were at our more regular hang-out, Kibbutz Sdot Yam, for the annual Professional Development Retreat, which brought together 43 Palestinian and Israeli basketball coaches and members of the Leadership Development Program (LDP) (stay tuned next week when we bring you the Peace Education Retreat for kids, which is taking place this coming weekend).
Coaches at the Professional Development Retreat came from the communities of East and West Jerusalem, Tamra, Kiryat Anavim, Ein Rafah and Holon. They were joined by members of the LDP, who are coaches-in-training in the Twinned Basketball Program. This might have been the most intense Professional Development Retreat we’ve had yet, with coaches running from gym to classroom and from classroom to gym once again.
PPI friend and board member Chad Ford (professor of conflict resolution at BYU Hawaii) was on hand to share some inspiring stories about how seeing people as people can improve a player’s game on the basketball court, as well as his or her life outside of the gym. Chad also offered support to Nissreen and Renana, PPI – ME’s new curriculum facilitators, who led a four-hour Arbinger session. Other special visitors included new PPI Organizational Learning Specialist Gunnar Hagstrom (who until recently was a fellow at PPI – Cyprus), who spent time getting to know how PPI – ME implements the Anatomy of Peace Curriculum. Also on board was Chad’s fellow BYU Hawaii faculty member Rand Blimes, as well as BYU Hawaii students Adhna Martin and David Whippy. Adhna and David added some extra flavor to the weekend with a team building battle of the sexes dance-off. Men learned an aboriginal dance from New Zealand, while Adhna, whose mother is from Tahiti, taught women a traditional Tahitian dance.
Oh, yes. And there was basketball, too, of course. PPI – ME Basketball Operations Manager Vito Gilic’ demonstrated (with the help of the LDP) the Anatomy of Peace basketball drills, which take the principles of the Arbinger Institute’s Anatomy of Peace conflict resolution model, and applies them to basketball drills. Each drill was followed by a discussion led in both Hebrew and Arabic by facilitators Renana and Nissreen. By the end of the weekend, coaches were bushed, but now they’re ready to enter the coming program years with the tools they need to use basketball to bridge divides, and that’s what we’re all about!