Carlos Alvarez has spent the last nine months working as an intern and sessional coach for PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI). He has been enormously helpful and eager, but sadly he is departing to spend the summer in the United States (U.S.). Below, International Fellow Chris Schumerth interviews Carlos about his experience with PPI-NI.
Chris: “What have been your favorite parts of working for PeacePlayers?”
Carlos: “Without a doubt, what I most value is the work I’ve done as a sessional coach. During my internship I had functions in the office, but after that I only worked on the court, working with the kids and delivering community relations and basketball sessions, which is the most interesting and enjoyable part because you can see a direct impact on the kids.”
Chris: “Why is PeacePlayers’ work important?”
Carlos: “Because, as I said previously, every coach has an impact on the kids. When you are working with them, you can see that the kids react to what you say and do. That’s why our job is so important. I’ve worked with most of the sessional coaches from PPI-NI, and I can say that they are incredibly professional, and that this organization has a strong future and will be a fundamental part of progress toward real peace in Northern Ireland.”
Chris: “Do you have a favorite memory?”
Carlos: “I had so much fun at Jingle Ball and Spring Jam, two of PPI-NI’s big events. But if I had to mention one memory with PeacePlayers I would say all the twinning sessions with St. Paul’s and Harmony’s P7 classes because I was the lead coach responsible for the design of the sessions and delegation of roles to the coaches. It was my first time in that role. Also, I really became fond of those kids!”
Chris: “What lessons will you take with you from PeacePlayers?”
Carlos: “For starters, I’ve learned a lot of different skills that weren’t necessarily related directly to my job. But I will choose a couple that will be important in my professional future. The first one is how I’ve learned to deal with the kids during the sessions and how to manage difficult situations. This is something that you can’t learn at university, which is why I appreciate this experience so much. I’ve especially enjoyed watching (PPI-NI Project Coordinator) Joanne Fitzpatrick and the impact she has on kids. The other lesson that I would take is communication, not only with the kids but with the rest of the PPI-NI staff. I’ve really improved my English.”
Chris: “What’s next for you?”
Carlos: “I’m moving to the U.S. to work as a camp counselor at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. I have to admit that I’m really excited about it because it is the first time that I cross ‘the pond’ for work. My lessons with PPI-NI will definitely be useful in my new job; hopefully those Americans will not laugh at my Spanish-Irish accent! Eventually, I hope to return to Spain and to find a proper job there, but that’s tough at the minute for people my age. Who knows, perhaps if I’m not able to find anything in Spain, I will come back to Belfast to work again for PPI-NI!”
We are so grateful for the work Carlos has done to bridge divides in Northern Ireland. We wish him well as he moves on to other life experiences!