PeacePlayers International – Middle East celebrated this year’s holiday season with the annual “Abe and Irene Pollin Holiday Happening,” which featured basketball, entertainment and art for all the young kids in the program. The special occasion was separated into several different stations of activities from basketball skills to arts and crafts to getting to interact and watch a professional juggler perform. There was also a holiday station to learn about and discuss the traditions of the Jewish holiday Hanukah, the Muslim holiday celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, and the Christian holiday Christmas. Many of the kids participated in question and answer sessions that hopefully contributed to a shared understanding of the diverse religious traditions of this region.
The kids also got to play “Santa says, ” that was loosely based on the game “Simon Says”. They picked up the game quickly and had a great time following the crazy gestures and ridiculous dance moves! PPI staff Galit Sahar and Vito Gilic did a tremendous job of creating and coordinating this event along with the help of our Leadership Development Program (LDP) team. The LDP participants did an excellent job exemplifying the skills they have acquired as a result of being a part of the program. One of our LDP participants, Juman, said, “It is very important for us to be
involved because it gives us experience and helps us to become better leaders. It also makes us feel confident that the PPI staff trusts us enough to depend on us to run parts of the event.” Coach Khaled, who graduated from the LDP himself, agreed, adding, “LDP has helped me to develop the leadership and coaching skills to be able to work with the kids independently and this responsibility makes me more confident.”
This event was about playing together and learning to appreciate other cultures and traditions. To an outsider, the event may have seemed a little hectic, with 100-odd kids cheering, jumping and playing in the gym. Anyone involved with PPI, though, could see the underlying togetherness and unity that prevailed, in spite of the differences that plague the Arab and Jewish communities here every day.
As always, thank you to the Pollin family for making the holiday the Holiday Happening possible.