Today’s blog is written by PPI-CY International Fellow, Ashley Johnson. Ashley began working for PeacePlayers – Cyprus in June of 2012. Prior to that, Ashley was a 4 year member of the Colorado College Women’s Basketball Team and a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer with the US Peace Corps in Cameroon.
Happy Holidays from the PeacePlayers – Cyprus family! I am writing this post as I sit by a warm fire after a long day of skiing and snowshoeing. Skiing, and snowshoeing, in Cyprus you may ask? Well, actually I am currently home in the Rocky Mountains visiting family over the holiday break. I find myself constantly telling stories of my PeacePlayers family to my friends and family here in the US. After having spent the last 7 months working as the fellow in the beautiful Eastern Mediterranean country of Cyprus it is a bit of a shock to the system to return to the cold wintery climate half way across the world.
Being home offers the perfect opportunity for me to share my life and the stories of the work of PeacePlayers. I fill people in on the history of Cyprus and the fact that the UN has its 3rd longest running peacekeeping mission based on the island. That the island is essentially divided into two, where Greek-Cypriots live in the southern side and Turkish-Cypriots live in the north with little to no interaction between the two communities. My family asks me what our mission is in Cyprus and I share with them opportunity that we provide youth from the two communities to interact with one another by playing the game of basketball together. Many ask about the youth we work with and if I see PeacePlayers having an impact in their lives. It gives me pride to be able to answer yes.
One of the things that I enjoy the most about our work is that we can see the benefits of all the efforts the coaches and staff put in. We see the young people developing as basketball players and as individuals over the years. We also see them creating friendships with their teammates and with the young people from the other communities through our camps and twinnings.
Explaining all of my experiences with PeacePlayers throughout my time in the states has made me even more appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of such an innovative and unique organization. I look forward to returning and continuing to develop the Cyprus program to its fullest potential.