This week PPI Operations Learning Specialist, Gunnar Hagstrom, returned to Cyprus where his experiences with PPI all began. Gunnar completed his 2.5 years as an International Fellow this past July, and since leaving the island he has gone on to travel around the world with PPI’s Technical Assistance Program. Throughout his travels he has had a chance to witness and experience what makes all PPI sites successful within their own cultural context and see what unites us as a collective organization. Cyprus is the last stop in Gunnar’s initial visits of each PeacePlayers site, giving us the advantage of being able to draw on all of his newly acquired understanding of practices and implementation methods across the different regions. While we may each have vastly different contexts in which we apply these practices and methods we are all working towards the same mission “to unite, educate and inspire young people through the game of basketball.”
One of our main focuses this week was to further conceptualize and develop our PeacePlayers Cyprus Life Skills curriculum. While each PPI site has its own life skills component, the main themes behind the curriculum can differ greatly from site to site. One must first take into account the specific societal issues youth are facing in our communities before we develop programming to address such issues. The team here in Cyprus sat down with Gunnar to first create a better understanding of specific life skills focused programming at other PPI sites. Then we held a brainstorming session discussing the main themes for our Cyprus curriculum including: xenophobia, peer pressure and bullying, proactivity, teamwork, trust, respect and self-confidence. We are now examining each of these themes within the Cypriot youth context and developing key messages, activities and discussions for each topic. Throughout the programming year we will meet with our teams and implement basketball specific scenarios in team practices that relate to each theme allowing discussions to flow through the game. Drawing upon Gunnar’s experiences visiting the programs in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and South Africa, allowed us to gain valuable insights on how best to implement our renewed curriculum.
While we will miss having Gunnar here with us, we appreciate the productivity that came out of our time together this past week. The PPI Cyprus family wishes him the best on his continued path deepening the connections of PeacePlayers sites across the globe.